[Fantasia Review] ‘Brain Freeze’ Thaws Out Zombie Formula with Smart Commentary and Humor – Bloody Disgusting

Quebec-set Brain Freeze honors the George A. Romero tradition of using zombies as social satire and commentary. Director and co-writer Julien Knafo juggles numerous critiques at once, from classism to environmental concerns to the digital divide.Brain Freezebuilds upon the traditional zombie outbreak formula and tropes, adding regional specificity and a modern twist that keeps it breezing along with biting humor and self-awareness.

Its the middle of winter, but the affluent residents of Peacock Island want the ability to golf year-round. Their wish gets granted in the form of a new fertilizer that will grow grass even in the iciest conditions. The only catch is that the experimental fertilizer makes its way into the water supply, contaminating the population and creating a bizarre zombie outbreak.

Knafo and co-writer Jean Barbe place a pair of unlikely allies at the center of the madness, using their generational gap to comedic effect. Andr (Iani Bdard) is a young teen perpetually glued to his smartphone, so much so that hes often oblivious to his surroundings. However, the outbreak depletes his phones battery and forces him to care for his baby sister. It leads him to Dan (Roy Dupuis), the islands older security guard that spends his free time avoiding technology and doomsday prepping. The push and pull between the twosome bring the jokes and adds in interesting subtext, given that an untested form of technology created the situation in the first place. In a potential apocalypse scenario, which ideology proves more effective?

Knafo uses humor to explore both sides. Andr consistently struggles to find a working phone, even using severed body parts, while Dan cant make a fire without modern invention. Peripheral characters represent other social critiques; the ruthless forces trying to halt spread to the mainland, the corporate leader whose greed sparked it all, and the morally dubious radio DJ that shuts down calls for empathy.Brain Freezethen ponders how much compassion can help or hinder catastrophic events that threaten the world. Through the zombie formula,Brain Freezebroaches several weighty topics, many without clear, decisive answers.

The zombie outbreak pokes fun at the health nuts and genetically modified food, literally transforming the infected into grass. It shakes up the rules and tropes just enough to keep you guessing and wondering about Peacock Islands ultimate fate. The way the color green gets subverted in this zombie comedy is clever. The typical sickish hue connected with rot and decaying zombies gets tossed on its head, with the vibrant green associated with growth and vitality instead creating illness. Refreshingly, the characters seem to grasp the zombie concept, even if it takes the main characters far too long to catch up to what the viewer already knows.

Brain Freezeoffers some thoughtful commentary thats approached with a broad simplicity that makes it accessible beyond its setting. Its what makes Andr and Dan so engaging, which helps when the narrative falls into the more obvious patterns and plot beats of zombie fare. The dry humor wont land for those that prefer more overt, slapstick style comedy, and some ideas introduced get left dangling. It may not be a modern reinvention, butBrain Freezedoes wield its satire in an engaging way that keeps this zombie comedy moving along at a quick and entertaining pace.

Cinedigm acquired U.S. rights to Brain Freezefor release later this year.

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[Fantasia Review] 'Brain Freeze' Thaws Out Zombie Formula with Smart Commentary and Humor - Bloody Disgusting

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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