It’s a concept that’s been explored many times. In the horror and fantasy realm, that concept has been played with a lot, usually involving a a character overcoming death to, for better or worse, spend “the rest of their time” with the one they love. It’s also been a staple of comedy too, usually involving a a love gone wrong where someone gets dumped and doesn’t know how to move on because they thought their ex was “the one”. In Burying the Ex, a new film out today on Bluray and DVD through Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada and directed by Joe Dante, both of these tropes are explored as a horror/comedy. While the set up is there, the execution of each is a bit off.
The film focuses on Max, played by Anton Yelchin, a guy who works at a horror-themed memorabilia and book store dreaming that he’ll get to own his own shop one day. He’s just moved in with his dream girl, Evelyn (Ashley Greene), and while things appear to be cool at first, they get pretty bad when it’s revealed that she’s a controlling, manipulative nightmare. He’s got to break up with her but is deathly afraid of doing so. This is where fate steps in as Evelyn ends up dying in a horrific accident. Max blames himself but eventually finds the courage to move on and explore a possible relationship with Olivia (Alexandra Daddario), a woman that runs a horror-themed ice cream shop (it’s obvious they’re into the same stuff). Just when it looks as though Max has a chance to live happily ever after, Evelyn returns from the grave and is hell bent on keeping her man, even if that means turning him into a zombie like herself.
The plot of this movie sounds like something out of a 50s B-Movie horror film and there are a number of asides to the classic horror genre that tip their hat to that fact throughout the 89 minute running time. Unfortunately, a few clever jokes do not a movie make. The story is very paint by numbers and you know exactly what’s going to happen every second. There are no surprises and a number of the jokes don’t really land well as their setups are way too long. In fact, the whole film feels way too long. It’s only an hour and a half but you’ll find yourself checking your watch every five minutes hoping that more time has passed by.
The story isn’t the only sticking point as the performances are part of the problem as well. No one has ever accused Ashley Greene of being a great actress but she gives a lopsided showing throughout, at some points being almost sympathetic and then switching to batshit crazy on a dime. The problem is that the transition seems forced and is more than a bit jarring at first. In the first couple of scenes, the things she’s suppose to be a nag about seem perfectly reasonable, so it’s hard to see exactly what they’re setting up (the only confusing point in a way too obvious film). The next scene she goes from zero-to-bitch in under a second and there’s no explanation for it except to move the plot along. Greene’s over the top performance doesn’t help matters much and becomes quite annoying before you’re even halfway through the movie.
Greene’s performance was not the only horrific standout as the entire cast either under or over sells in each scene. Anton Yelchin’s timing and delivery feel like they’re trying to parody those 50s horrors I mentioned earlier, but it could just be a bad character choice as he feels out of place in almost every scene he’s in. Alexandra Daddario is given a few interesting lines but is barely a character and she does nothing with that small bit she’s got except be there as more of a prop. The worst performance comes from Oliver Cooper who plays Travis, Max’s half brother and the “comic relief” of the piece. There is nothing funny about anything he does. When you’re suppose to be the funniest character in a comedy and you don’t deliver, it’s very obvious and the movie feels like it’s stopped dead in its tracks. This happens every time Cooper is on screen. Maybe with a better script, each of these folks could have brought something better to the table.
While the look of the film is nice and some fun ideas are introduced, Burying the Ex was lacking in what it needed most: character. There was no one to root for in this film as everyone either came off as a dick or didn’t have enough character to hang onto. It’s hard to believe that the guy who directed Gremlins also made this film….but then again, Gremlins was a long time ago.
I strongly recommend that you avoid watching Burying the Ex. There are better comedies out there that tackle the “girlfriend back from the dead” idea way more effectively than this one (Nina Forever and Life After Beth to name a couple). I would suggest you track those films down instead.
Burying the Ex is now available on DVD and Bluray through Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!