One thing that I have to give this independent film credit for is that it lets you know just what kind of film it is from the title. Die-ner (Get It?) — and yes, the “Get It?” is part of the actual name — immediately positions itself as a comedic horror movie. Written and directed by Patrick Horvath, it was released in 2007, direct-to-video as far as I can determine. The film stars Joshua Grote as a serial killer named Ken (at least, that’s what he says), who comes to a remote diner and kills a couple of the staff members there, after having killed the trucker he hitchhiked with. He then gets ready to kill a couple of diner patrons who arrive after he has cleaned up his work, but is interrupted when he discovers that his handiwork isn’t staying put. His victims are coming back as zombies.
You’d think if there were any hobby with some permanence…
Like a lot of low-budget horror comedies, most of the comedy is in the premise. The idea of a serial killer having to face his victims coming back is kind of amusing in a macabre way, and Joshua Grote does an admirable job as Ken, portraying him as being both sociopathic and somewhat affable despite having no emotional connection to people. Parker Quinn and Liesel Kopp as the diner patrons roped into working with him to put down the zombies provide the audience with a couple of genuine good guys to root for, and are reasonably convincing as a couple undergoing marital stress before they’re thrown into a situation way over their heads. Larry Purtell does a reasonable job as local Sheriff Duke, as well. It’s a smaller role, but his amiable rambling early on provides an amusing counterpoint to some of the ghoulish goings-on.
The zombies, I’ll admit, aren’t quite as convincing in their motions. But I’m not sure if this is bad acting, deliberate comic effect, or just the usual difficulties with portraying the living dead. It’s kind of hard to tell with zombies. I will give the movie credit though in that these zombies appear to be capable of some rudimentary problem solving, which is a bit of a twist on the genre.
On the downside, for a horror comedy, there isn’t much horror or comedy. There’s a lot of blood and zombies shuffling about, of course, but there’s never a sense of fear — which is fine, you don’t really expect that in a comedy. But there also aren’t a lot of laughs; like I said, most of the humor is just in the premise. I found myself watching the proceedings with a bit of a wry grin at some of the ironies of the situation, but genuine laugh-producing jokes were few and far between.
Additionally, there are some areas where I felt the directing and writing of the film didn’t quite work. Most of the directing was fine — not great, but serviceable in a simple fashion. It’s a film with only a few scenes (different rooms in one location), and most of the shots make sense. But there are a few moments where I thought the framing of the scene didn’t serve what was going on very well, such as when the person talking is only visible from the chest down.
He hasn’t lost his head, it’s just poorly cropped.
On the writing side, a little bit more punch to the dialogue could have made this comedy a bit more comedic. The dialogue is natural and flows well, but there’s not much zing to it, which is something that the audience is going to be looking for with such an obviously comedic title. Additionally, there are a couple of flashback sequences to when Ken was a child, apparently to explain his sociopathic nature, that don’t do anything to serve the plot or truly round out his character. They’re slow and uninteresting and unnecessary; as odd as it may be to say for a 75 minute film, some of it could have been left on the editing room floor without hurting the movie.
These issues aside, Die-ner (Get It?) is still reasonably entertaining. It has a decent storyline for a film of its length, and the main characters are fairly entertaining. Joshua Grote is definitely the standout as Ken, but Quinn and Kopp are also good. Watch it without high expectations and it won’t disappoint.