“Burying the Ex” is a horror comedy that never frightens and rarely amuses. It’s a zombie breakup movie whose best joke might be its all-the-description-you-need title.
Horror shop clerk Max (Anton Yelchin of the revived “Star Trek”) has this shrill vegan/environmentalist girlfriend, played by Ashley Greene of the “Twilight Saga.” She’s self-righteous, short-tempered and when she gets on roll, funny. Listen to her tear into the sexual conquests of Max’s lump of a half brother, Travis (Oliver Cooper) the morning after, when they’re passed out on Max’s sofa.
Don’t know where you’re going, but you can’t stay here, Evelyn begins, burning daggers at Travis. “I suggest the nearest church, or Planned Parenthood.”
She’s too intense for Max, who doesn’t frighten easily. He spends his days at Bloody Mary’s Boutique, watching old Vincent Price movies, selling horror paraphernalia and costumes.
Meeting the fair “I Scream” for ice cream horror-deserts shop owner Olivia (Alexandra Daddario of “San Andreas”) is the final straw. Max arranges to meet Evelyn in a public park to break up with her. And that’s when he sees her hit and killed by a bus.
Hard to get happy after that. Max’s “We will always be together” promise to the dying Evelyn doesn’t help. And taking Olivia on a date that passes by Evelyn’s grave is just asking for trouble. Ex-girlfriend rises from the dead, and Max is stuck trying to figure out what to do about that and how not to let Olivia know he’s still living with The Living Dead.
Veteran director Joe Dante, who had a nice run from the late-70s to late ’90s with films such as “The Howling,” “Gremlins” and “Matinee,” attracted a decent cast and conjures up a nice milieu for “Burying the Ex” — horror shops, goth dance clubs and the like.
But he can’t skip by or make funny the script’s abrupt need to get rid of Evelyn, and then dispose Zombie Evelyn. The half-brother sidekick is yet another “Jack Black lite.” The funniest one-liners aren’t quotable in polite company, but there’s not much here to merit that R-rating, other than the grisly and touching death that is supposed to amuse us. This is decades removed from the state of the horror comedy art.
Greene does her best with post-mortem jokes such as “Oh come on! My morning face is NOT that bad!”
But “Burying the Ex” is so artless, humorless and lacking in urgency that it’s no surprise realizing that Dante has spent recent years on the quicker/dirtier schedules of TV. But what works on “Hawaii Five-O” and “Splatter” doesn’t add up to anything worth shelling out shekels to see on the big screen.
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, Alexandra Daddario
Credits: Directed by Joe Dante, script by Alan Trezza. A Voltage/Image Entertainment release.
Running time: 1:29