It’s the Fourth of July weekend and Deb (Maria Thayer) is drinking down the bar with best friend Ruby (Julie Brister). Her mischievous friend encourages her to talk to the most attractive guy in Portland, Maine; Ryan Waverly (Michael Cassidy).
Next thing she knows she’s woken up in his plush apartment however Ryan wants nothing more than to usher the overly enthusiastic Deb out of his place. Both parties soon realize they may need each other more than they ever thought as the zombie apocalypse has hit their sleepy little town. Deb risks her life along with Ryan, but finds out that there’s nothing scarier than risking her heart.
Combining the zombie apocalypse with the romantic comedy and it resulting in gory, heart-warming and laugh out loud humour requires a certain type of skill. Night of the Living Deb with its obvious title parody is a substandard offering that excludes any effort that would normally charm the audience with this kind of plot line. Shaun of the Dead it is not.
It attempts to be quirky but presents itself as over the top, cheesy and downright annoying. It seems unapologetic in the sense that it thinks it’s being funny, making the assumption that the audience is amused by the gags and jokes. But the main factor that it thinks it’s incredibly hilarious is because it has zombies at the backdrop of this contrived, silly love story. Night of the Living Deb plays around with the conventions of the zombie flick however by the end its attempt has egg on its face as it caters to plot contrivance rather than actually doing something clever.
As a whole, it’s a rather one-dimensional and superficial film. Deb as a character is just irritating; are we supposed to buy into the fact that because she has had a one night stand with a bloke that she literally just met she has some sort of claim over him despite the fact he has a fiancée. The fiancée Stacy’s (Syd Wilder) only flaw is that she is played as high maintenance but isn’t a particularly offensive character. Deb is pushy and shoehorns herself into Ryan’s life to cater to her own selfish motivations. This is essentially a tale of a very desperate woman with a bizarre 80s fashion sense that hangs around a guy long enough until for no reason he decides “actually I want to be with this person”.
There’s that whole typical cliché of boy meets girl, they can’t stand each other yet then decide that they in fact do have romantic feelings for each other, but what really niggled in this film was there was no indication of Ryan falling in love with Deb, it kind of happens without any real reason. It’s a very poorly executed story arc where the point is completely missed of how these two opposites eventually attract. Deb isn’t likable and puts the modern heroic, independent woman in horror a million decades back.
The one saving grace is a very welcome appearance from Ray Wise as Ryan’s privileged, rich and brownie- baking father Frank Waverly. Wise is a cult star and fan favorite therefore it’s disappointing that all he was given was a lot of forced comedy to do in this.
Production wise it’s typically indie, the effects aren’t polished but that can be forgiven procuring to its B movie/parody tone. It’s such a shallow, un-entertaining film that tries to be something it isn’t. By this point it would take something very special to take on the zombie sub-genre and make it stand out. This was just mind-numbing and screechy.
Night of the Living Deb is the film equivalent of nails on a chalk board.