October 8, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Just Buried

Title: Just Buried
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Rose Byrne, and Graham Greene
Writer/Director: Chaz Thorne
Released: Seville Pictures (2008)
Genre: Horror/Comedy

Nova Scotia doesn't get featured all that often in film, let alone horror films. Though, the original My Bloody Valentine was set in my home province, if I recall correctly. So when I caught wind that this comedic horror film was set and filmed around Windsor, Nova Scotia, I just had to check it out.

I wish I could say, however, that I have seen a good horror film set in Nova Scotia. But I can't, because this film bored me. That's a shame too, because Jay Baruchel is a talented actor and the plot for the film sounded promising, if not a bit familiar. The biggest problem with the film I found though, was that the performances came off as disingenuous, like they were played purely for the laughs. A comedic film playing for laughs? Perish the thought. Okay, point taken. But, the suspense simply wasn't there for me.

It's a tricky enough balance as it is when it comes to horror, as there are plenty of ways for it to teeter into farce and self-parody. When you purposefully throw in a comedic element, the task becomes all the more difficult in creating a quality film. For me, Baruchel's spastic and intensely awkward character, Oliver, comes off as an amped up and dumbed down echo of his roles in Tropic Thunder and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

The story basically deals with Oliver and his older brother returning home after the death of their estranged father. Following a dysfunctional funeral, the family's disparate members view the patriarch's video will which uses a "The Price Is Right" style wheel to determine the sole inheritor of his estate, which includes the small town's struggling funeral home. Oliver, of course, wins the prize. The trouble for him is that he has no experience as a business owner, and even less about the funeral business. And with most of the elderly already kicked off, and a more conveniently located funeral parlor elsewhere, the estate is going under.

What does Oliver do? Yup, to exploit the horror element of the film, Oliver becomes a relunctant accomplice to murder as his mortician and potential love interest, Roberta--played by Rose Byrne in one of the more refreshing performances of the film--starts offing people in order to drum up business. From there, it's a bit of hijinks and escalating tension as they try to evade suspicion from local authorities, and Oliver tries to maintain his sanity in the ensuing madness.

The movie had potential. I just felt it flopped. I think a more effective blend of comedy and horror was achieved by Vincent Price years ago in a film with a very similar plot. I encourage movie fans to watch that one instead. And for the Jay Baruchel fans out there, stick with the mainstream fare.

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