Ever since “Shaun of the Dead,” many filmmakers have been intent on delivering their own horror comedies about self obsessed thirty somethings thrust in to the zombie apocalypse. Kyle Rankin’s “Night of the Living Deb” is not a masterpiece by any definition of the word, but it ends up being a decent diversion that has a good time using zombies as a means of emphasizing the dynamic between our main characters. Set on the fourth of July, awkward Deb awakens in the apartment of her love interest Ryan. Though she’s in love with him, Ryan isn’t entirely interested in her and is anxious to get her out of his life as soon as possible. Little do either of the pair know that overnight their small town of Maine has been consumed by a zombie apocalypse and everyone they known are now flesh eating zombies.
With Deb and Ryan now stuck together, they decide to venture out of town to find their remaining relatives and perhaps learn to like each other. Maria Thayer is the titular Deb and is insanely adorable as the inadvertent heroine who approaches the dire situation with a wise crack and a misplaced movie reference here and there. The writers try to make Deb in to something of a fish out of water, but she’s incredibly sympathetic to watch, and I wanted to see her make it through the hordes of flesh eating monsters. The dynamic between Thayer and Michael Cassidy is very good and entertaining, especially the way Cassidy plays character Ryan as a self-serious environmental nut who preaches about life and plays straight man to Deb’s antics. For what zombie carnage there is, director Rankin pulls off some prime zombie terror, including a chase through a fire escape.
First and foremost though, “Night of the Living Deb” prides itself in being a romance comedy, and the zombies are pushed somewhat in to the background by the time the second half rolls around. That’s a definite negative, especially when there’s still so much that could have been done with them here. Also Chris Marquette is very wasted in his supporting role as Ryan’s gun nut younger brother. Marquette has proven to be a hilarious supporting actor, and here he’s given a paltry four scenes. I was also not a fan of the finale, which felt like a toothless cop out for what was building in to a pretty interesting tale of Deb’s efforts to be taken seriously. It just all felt too wrapped up in a neat little bow with very little fall out. In either case, “Night of the Living Deb” is a solid diversion and entertaining zombie romance comedy. If you have to watch it, watch for Maria Thayer who is just cute as a button.