Since its early beginnings, the consistent popularity of zombie fare has inevitably led to a series of films that must give a new take on the genre to succeed. Guns, Gangsters & Zombies (as the title might suggest) is a typically British approach to flesh eating monsters, and one that, partly, does well.
Following a bank job, getaway van driver Q (Vincent Jerome) must avoid both the police and the zombie horde as he and his gang of cockney gangsters try to find a safe place to lay low. With one member shot and the first safe house surrounded by police, Q takes the cockneys into the countryside in search of a safe location.
This simple premise may not seem anything special, but by placing the majority of the film’s action in and around vehicles, the film cleverly hides its small budget in a way that also serves the narrative. Made for the tiny amount of an estimated £1,200, the strength of the film is its ability to hide the effects of such tiny funding. The road movie aesthetic also propels the story forward, allowing the film’s running time to never seem complacent.
Grouping the characters together in such close quarters also allows them to become more animated and entertaining. Whilst still all falling under the guise of London gangsters, each is still fairly diverse within this field, some even being generally enjoyable to watch; Crazy Steve and Muscles seem clichéd, but they quickly become crowd-pleasers, getting the biggest laughs of the film.
Unfortunately, these few can only carry the ensemble cast so far, as the other secondary characters are certainly not as involving. Even the introduction of a romantic element to the narrative cannot save it from running out of steam as it progresses.
The end result is a film with some enjoyable sequences, instead of a complete piece. Limiting the action to the inside of a van for the majority of the film is a good directorial choice by first timer Matt Mitchell, as it effectively quashes the potential issues associated with a tiny budget. Furthermore, the comic sensibilities of the cast do manage to distract for a time. However, this is soon not enough to stop the film’s pace from slowing to a near crawl, almost as though the ideas simply stop gushing forth like the fake gore that identifies this genre.