The idea of reviewing this movie caused me an increasing amount of anxiety the closer I got to sitting my ass down and writing it. Writer/Director Joshua Hull is not only the mind behind the film, he is also a member of our writing staff. Initially, when Josh sent me the screener it wasn’t so much a big deal for me to do this review because we only crossed paths on The Blood Sprayer and a social media site. But then, things got a bit more complicated…
As is the case with any venture such as this one, you get to know people better the more you interact with them. You realize you have things in common, enjoy/dislike the same things, etc. I’m not about to tell you that we fell in love, but I can tell you that before all was said and done, I would be writing and recording a new song (with The Highgears, of course) for his next feature and making an appearance. That was what made this a complicated thing for me: I’ve always tried to stick to my guns and be objective at all times. So, how the hell do you do that when this is not only someone who writes on your site but also someone you’ll be working with?! Then, it hit me: I saw Beverly Lane already and I liked it!!
Close your eyes for a second and think about this: You, your co-workers (Kristy Jett is excluded for having kick ass co-workers.), clowns, magicians, barbershop singers, and an overall tacky “Coney Island” themed party for a boss you never cared for. Oh, and did I mention the party was thrown by the new young boss who you (most certainly) will hate and came with an appearance by the corporate assholes who only show up when they smell photo ops or food? Yep, it’s happening. Okay, open your eyes. That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Now, throw in the ensuing zombie apocalypse that traps all of you at work. Together. You’re forced to choose between death and well, wanting to be dead. It can safely be summed up as a hellish nightmare none of us would like to live out. Fortunately, Joshua Hull not only plays the scenario out for us but he makes it pretty darn hilarious, too.
What will endear Beverly Lane to horror fans will be the zombies but what makes the movie great however, is the focus on developing the characters to drive the narrative. The zombie aspect is the backdrop to the whole story. The basis of the film is asking the audience how they would deal with being trapped at work with people they really don’t care for. Sure, you’re around them as much as your family but if push came to shove you don’t want to be trapped with them! Tying this element into a horror theme not only yields hilarious results, but it also shows a level of intelligence you rarely see in a no-budget indie film such as this. Hull’s decision to put his emphasis on the characters and not bet the farm on effects is a risky one for a first time filmmaker. But it’s also proof that he wants substance to be the foundation of his work, as opposed to style. As someone who sees his fair share of low budget indie cinema, this is the sort of pay-off that keeps you excited about the movies. Here is a filmmaker who on his first time out decides to flex his writing muscles, while utilizing his budget restraints to the best of his ability. It shows the signs of someone who wants to do it the right way.
With all the personal attachments aside, Joshua Hull and his team did all the right things they needed to do to make their movie. There’s well-rounded performances, plenty of laughs, a tasteful amount o’ blood, and PROPER lighting and sound (something inexplicably left out of too many indie film budgets). The Parks & Recreation-meets-Zombieland combination goes off without a hitch and it’s full of the fun you’d expect from a flick with that mindset. Beverly Lane is a prime example of how great low budget filmmaking can be if the right minds are behind it. If his first film is any indication, Joshua Hull is that sort of “right mind” we’re looking for in horror. At the risk of sounding hokey, expect big things from him. He doesn’t just love horror films-he has something he wants to say and is willing to make the right kind of sacrifices to do so.