As a self-proclaimed wimp, scary movies aren’t typically my thing. Even the rubbish ones leave me lying awake at night, unable to sleep. So, when I planned to attend the London Korean Film Festival, a zombie film wasn’t really on the agenda. Thankfully, a quick google search had me changing my mind. There are just some films you can’t afford to miss, and this felt like one of them.
After seeing the film, I can happily confirm I was right. The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale is exactly my cup of tea. More weird and wacky than horrifying, it’s a comedy with a twist which will leave you giggling into your hands instead of hiding behind them. There will undoubtedly be those who take issue with Lee Min-Jae’s more comedic approach to the zombie genre, but past examples (Shaun of the Dead anyone?) prove that such films can work very well.
In The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale, we follow a family of tricksters living in the middle of no-where. The eldest son, Joon-Gul (Jung Jae-young), and his wife Nam-Joo (Um Ji-won) survive by causing car accidents and charging the victims extortionate rates to fix their vehicles. Meanwhile, the family patriarch (Park In-Hwan) is a degenerate gambler who cheats his own friends, and the youngest son Min-Gul (Kim Nam-Gil), has returned home in disgrace, having failed in the big city. Even Hae-Gul (Lee Soo-Kyung), the adored little sister, is flawed and so socially awkward that her only friends are the rabbits she keeps killing. Not exactly the behaviour you’d expect from the main characters, but such degenerates work perfectly in this strange, isolated setting. What are a few misfits among many?
It is into this bizarre household that our zombie stumbles, having been infected during illegal human experiments. Hilarity ensues from the get-go, with poor Zzongbie (Jung Ga-Ram), as he is soon named, desperately trying (and failing) to bite those he comes into contact with, before being chased away by a local dog. Eventually, he succeeds in attacking Man-Deok (Park In-Hwan) but this light bite does little to harm the furious elder, who chases the terrified zombie out with a few punches.
Later the same evening, having awoken to find Zzongbie destroying one of Hae-Gul’s poor rabbits, Man-Deok and his family realise what they’re dealing with, and set about a plan of action to protect themselves. Unfortunately for newly bitten Man-Deok, this includes knocking him out and trapping him in a caravan.
The next day, looking and feeling years younger, but showing no other signs of change, Man-Deok is accosted by his fellow elders who beg to be introduced to his miracle cure. With so much money on the table, this dysfunctional family can’t help but take advantage, and before long Zzongbie’s biting half the neighbourhood.
In time, Zzongbie earns his way into the family’s’ heart, with some help from a lovestruck Hae-Gul who works hard to help him assimilate, with hilarious results. Though many of the characters are bad people, they earn the audience’s love and forgiveness through their open-hearted acceptance of Zzongbie.
Half comedy, half horror, audiences will be pleased by the balance of scary scenes to amusing ones. It can appeal to horror fans or wimps alike, and entertain as well as scare. Fight scenes are executed well and there are fantastic moments where the zombie apocalypse seems more possible (and more hilarious) than ever. Even romantics will find something to enjoy, with plenty of adorable scenes between Hae-Gul and Zzongbie, whose slow, strange romance charms the whole audience.
Ultimately, The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale is a zombie comedy that works very well. Admittedly, it feels somewhat similar to other zombie films, most notably Shaun of the Dead, with its light-hearted tone and dysfunctional characters, and Warm Bodies. However, it does have its own unique tropes that set it apart, creating a new, refreshing zombie comedy.