The zombies have descended on our little island-state so does the army have what it takes to defend it? This scenario is explored – albeit in a comical way in Zombiepura, a passion project seven years in the making.
A mysterious viral outbreak in an ulu (remote) army camp is turning reservists into savage flesh-eating maniacs so a handful of misfits need to band together, in order to survive. Chao keng (someone who feigns illness to avoid responsibilities) king Tan Kayu (Alaric Tay) and a garang (fierce) sergeant obsessed with the rules, Lee Siao On (Benjamin Heng), need to put their differences aside and learn what it means to be real soldiers.
The conceit of bringing together a bunch of lovable misfits to face off against the zombie horde in a somewhat bloody comedy isn’t new. It’s basically Shaun of the Dead but with national service and a heavy dose of Singaporean humour. Because of its similarities with the aforementioned Brit rom-zom-com, Zombiepura comes across as a little derivative at times. There are also some pacing issues where a few sequences feel longer than they needed to be.
Having said that, Zombiepura is genuinely entertaining with a script chock-full of our unique local zingers. And the hilarious repartee is seamlessly delivered by a capable cast that includes some of Singapore’s notable comedic performers. I just wish they would’ve used more of Ministry of Funny’s Haresh Tilani – he’s good at this comedy thing and rather easy on the eyes too!
There were several moments in which the outwardly light-hearted film betrays a deeper subtext. For instance, Kayu and Siao On unwittingly discover that the infected still respond to specific triggers – whenever the anthem is played, they stand at attention and they still carry out their guard duty. To this Kayu quipped, “Muscle memory!” I wonder if this is a sly remark about how deeply institutionalised brainwashing has taken root or that the tiring routines of the military can sometimes feel like soul-sucking, mind-numbing work.
While Zombiepura isn’t terribly original, it’s a good stab at the zombie genre by a Singapore film and it will make for an entertaining time at the cinema.
Zombiepura is out in cinemas now. Tell us what you think of Singapore’s first zom com below!