Joe Dante’s latest horror/comedy has spirit

This is a Joe Dante movie. If you couldn’t tell from the Italian and ’50s horror movie posters scattered on the walls or the Halloween prop shop location, the background cameos of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are certain to be the reveal. Every TV likely features burn-in of their faces.

Burying the Ex stands as Dante’s lone (and trim) horror rom com thriller. His favorite movies helpfully fill in any story gaps. Backgrounds are flushed with loudly playing monologues from an Ed Wood messterpiece or Hammer Studio classic. There is little to fill though – Boy meets prissy girl, boy meets other girl, prissy girl is zombified (because curses and stuff), things becomes complicated when a living corpse and an actual living love interest clash.

This movie is small. Burying the Ex has three, maybe four locations. Those B-movie aspirations are darling. So are the puns. Death puns, rotting flesh puns, movie puns, ice cream naming puns; they’re glorious. Stupid, of course, but glorious.

Brought up into feature length from a 2008 short, Burying the Ex does sag. Rarely does the feature feel like it’s found a sense of progression. The idea lacks flavoring. Conversations linger, performances are sometimes dire, and Burying the Ex even turns sex talk into a droning routine. By its midway point, cliches sprout up – Max (Anton Yelchin) fends off both of the women in his life simultaneously – and Dante’s feature shows cracks in the overextended premise.

Ashley Greene is gold as the overly horny zombie chick Evelyn though, complete with oozing embalming fluid and a legion of flies circling her head. Alexandra Daddario doesn’t have the room, stuck in a role meant to appeal purely to horror geeks. Her entire personality is summed up in classic Hammer studio horror – the “perfect girl” for Burying the Ex’s specific demographic. Yelchin takes his leading role in stride and is aided by an improbable sex fiend for a half-brother in Oliver Cooper.

If the film feels same-y, chances are it’s doing something different on the back-end.

Still Burying the Ex has leverage. Quirky, odd, even bizarre. If the film feels same-y, chances are it’s doing something different in the undercurrent. Burying the Ex becomes a playful adult satire, shining a repulsion beam on foodies (Evelyn could challenge Food Babe for the title) and aggressively green planet watchers. Making Evelyn out to be more affable after she’s dead – the only time she’s displaying signs of living – is comedy.

Imperfect or not, the 80 some minutes blown on this cheaply likable Dante flick won’t bring much harm. After all, it still finds a role for Dick Miller. That’s something, and another sign of Joe Dante’s touch.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

The curse begins @ 10:49

Shot in less than a month, digital cinematography is passable considering. Key problems include repeated instances of thick black crush and lacking definition, as if the latter is to be expected considering time/budget. Clarity is fine, however. Few moments of noise creep into the image. Fidelity is simply infrequent. Part of this is contrast which opens on the high end and then dilutes as characters move into their living room. Window light sources evaporate.

Come night, shadows snack on details. Daddario’s mostly black clothing and mostly black hair morph into one light-sapped area. There is limited visual energy to see. It’s all taken by the black levels.

Limited color correction work does mean flesh tones are appealing – at least amongst the “living” members of the cast. Primaries are dense, especially after a paint job in the apartment. Green takes over.

Once outdoors, the few (very few) exterior shots show up and begin showcasing sharpness and resolution. Especially great is brief cemetery scene where trees are visible deep into the frame. Natural light helps to save all.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

Audio work follows suit with budget limitations keeping the soundstage tight. Pans into the stereos or surrounds are not infrequent. Ambient TVs follow the camerawork, for instance. Knocks on the door take a position in the soundfield, and a club lights up the rears plus the LFE. The latter’s energy is available nowhere else in this DTS-HD track – except the (literally) electric opening credits.

Dialog is fine, well balanced, and centered. Expect no motion. Ambiance outside at a dog park is noticeable if not hearty. That’s par for Burying the Ex’s audio scope.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

No extras? Nope. Not one.

Extras ☆☆☆☆☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.