The field of zombie movies is so crowded that there’s already a British movie – Stag Night of the Dead – about a bunch of lads who go on a zombie paintballing stag jaunt and fight real zombies. With that idea off the table, director Ben Kent – who also co-wrote with Joel Wilenius – goes for something slightly different even as he sends his stag party into a derelict factory/woodland area where they’re supposed to pop off paint guns at ex-squaddies in zombie make-up … and, as the witty poster title has it, ‘it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt’. Like several other recent British horror comedies – Double Date, Doghouse, Lesbian Vampire Killers – it pits a bunch of Brit-bloke stereotype useless guys against proper menace, though it doesn’t rehash the overworked theme (see all the above-cited films) of sexist or sexually inadequate lads being torn to literal shreds by monstrous womenfolk. A stripper (Angie Adler) does turn up (dressed as a policewoman), but she’s quite helpful – as opposed to the literally cock-chomping, ball-busting zombie-vampire-werewolf strippers in most movies in this sub-genre.
All the lad mag stereotypes are repped: Sam the groom (Sean Verey) is decent but wobbly, and led into trouble by his mates; prospective father-in-law Gerald (Mark Heap) is disapproving and uptight, but turns out to have hidden reserves; prissy Myles (Timothy Renouf) doesn’t really want to be along on this trip and certainly doesn’t want to get killed on account of people he doesn’t really know or like; Toby (David Mumeni) blathers on alarmingly about the joys of fatherhood; Eric (Danny Kirrane) is a sub-Nick Frost wild man stupid enough to think zombies are real, and keeps doing things that get his mates into trouble; and fat blokes called Cheese (Perry Fitzpatrick) and Al (Ewen McIntosh) fill out the splatter dance card. While yomping through the woods, Sam has a tussle with a hyped-up ‘zombie’ who gets accidentally skewered on a branch. His appalled mates stand about at the scene of the crime and when the man turns out to be only injured, total plonker Eric sinks knife into his skull Duane Jones fashion, claiming to have heard his plea for help as a groan of ‘brains!’. In retaliation, Sgt Marshall (Tim Faraday), the crazed martinet in charge of the zombie corps, orders his men to go after Sam’s stags in a damp weekend break version of Southern Comfort. Though captured, the lads resolve not to be slaughtered too easily.
As usual, the gross-out gags are less squirm-inducing than the casually bad behaviour of all concerned – and the fine line between criticising useless wankers and celebrating their awfulness is obliterated swiftly. It gets more interesting in the later stages — when Gerald in particular gets welcome character development – but we’ve been over this ground a bit too often lately.