‘A relationship movie with bite’
Better Off Zed is a 2018 American comedy horror feature film produced and directed by Travis Stevens from a screenplay by Amy Tofte, based on Stevens’ storyline. The Butcher Bird Studios movie stars Christine Woods (The Walking Dead) and Graham Sibley.
For the last decade, Guy (Graham Sibley) has worked a mentally and physically demanding 60-hour week, a soul-crushing daily grind that has frayed his nerves; while his wife Paige (Christine Woods), a free spirit with multiple fine arts degrees to her name, has spent their marriage chasing creative inspiration.
When the zombie apocalypse arrives, Guy is ecstatic: no more grueling work, no more monotony, no more hopeless future. He spends his days in idyllic splendor, living life in the moment… while Paige snaps into survival mode and takes on the role of pragmatist, figuring out how to secure their perimeter and stretch out their food supply, while following news reports for any glimmer of hope that they might be able to escape.
The couple – in essence – has switched places. And in this new dynamic, all of the small fissures pressured beneath the surface of their relationship finally crack open, forcing them to deal not only with Armageddon, but with a potentially far more horrifying reality… each other.
Producer-director Travis Stevens has commented: “Using horror to highlight the humour, tenderness, trust, and tragedy in an isolated relationship is an exciting challenge. Zed is constructed around the idea of elevating the normal to the supernormal by replacing the humdrum nature of everyday stresses with the exciting and terrifying possibility of being eaten by zombies. Playing on established horror tropes and twisting them into sometimes scary, sometimes funny situations drives both characters and audience down a what-would-you-do-if-it-were-you path.
After coming up with the story idea, I looked for a talented woman writer that was excited to work on this script. The concept came from such a strong organic place from me (I was that daily grinding working just wishing the world would end so I could get some rest) that I wanted to be sure that it was balanced against an equally strong female voice could lend weight and credibility to the relationship.”
“There’s a lot of focus on the monotony of being stuck in the house forever, which I understand is important since so much of the focus is on feeling trapped and limited, but it’s established well enough that the movie doesn’t need to be as long as it is; it goes past building tension to being kind of boring. That said, the last fifteen minutes ago is an emotional rollercoaster, so that somewhat makes up for it.” Laura Schaubschlager, Flix Chatter
“It isn’t well into the 3rd act where any momentum is made, and it feels almost too little too late. Still, Tofte’s ability to put a female perspective to Paige’s plight creates enough moments of genuine off-kilter reactions to life’s constant struggle that, like a relationship, its flaws are far less glaring.” Gregory Mucci, Nightmarish Conjurings
“The film is at its best when the couple is at odds, as that’s when Guy and Paige’s passion for each other really comes through. When shit really hits the fan, they do what they can to support each other. That makes it all the more heartbreaking when Better Off Zed kicks into full-fledged horror mode in the final act, and the film gives a gut punch ending…” PopHorror
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