Zombie movies are often degenerative, unoriginal, bland and uninspired but every now and then a real gem, full of colour, warmth and originality smashes its way into the bloated, yet beloved horror sub-genre. That film is Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness entry, Get The Hell Out.
Wang I-fan, in his directorial debut, gives us a delightful mixture of satirical political comedy and gonzo balls to the walls zombie action in this thrilling and hilarious skewering of the Taiwanese political system that draws inspiration from The Raid, Deadpool, George A Romero’s zombie catalogue and, bizarrely, professional wrestling.
Of course, zombie movies have always been political, but Get The Hell Out directly lampoons the way that politics, not just in Taiwan, but across the world desperately seems to need to create an ‘us vs them’ environment to survive, leading to an almost braindead and self-destructive inability for differing sides to interact and a polarisation of political discourse by literalising it with zombies!
This true-to-life subject matter, as evidenced by the several YouTube videos of actual fights in Taiwanese governments, works really well in combination with several of I-fan’s zany and abstract directorial flourishes, especially alongside the madcap script, a deliberately shifting tone, interesting and varied characters and expert handling of the horror elements like gore and zombie design.
The story focusses on Ying-Ying (Megan Lai) an ambitious politician with moral motives, shutting down development a nearby chemical factory, but who finds herself politically ruined after losing her temper. She’s then forced to recruit lowly security guard who has been in love with her since their childhood, You-Wei (Bruce Ho) who bizarrely, despite having no political aspirations, becomes a front runner for her seat, to stand in her place.
The set-up of the political wrangling that makes up the first third of the film is never dull, thanks to I-fan’s irreverent humour being interspersed throughout, as well as a deft movement between many genres, like romantic comedy, horror, action, thriller and political satire that cycle at a break-neck pace. As a result Get The Hell Out has to do a lot to top the opening thirty minutes when its hour-long zombie escape set-piece begins and it absolutely delivers.
Some may find the looseness and irreverence of the whole film to be irksome, but for those just looking to have a really good and enjoyable time with a horror film that’s also a bizarre mish-mash of other genres, tones and themes, or something that contains some very on-the-nose and surface level comedic criticism of recognisable politics as well as plenty of light-hearted but fully realised gore, then Get The Hell Out is for you.