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Burying the Ex (2014)

Image Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/28/2015

All Ratings out of

Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/27/2015

We often hear about things which get better with age, but movie directors do not fit that description. I can name several directors who wowed me with their early work (and become some of my favorite filmmakers), only to have their later films turn out to be boring, redundant, or complete messes. Why is this? My belief is that when they were young and hungry, they had something to prove and wanted to make movies which wanted to be seen as something different. Once they were established and comfortable in the industry, this need to wow audiences wavered. Joe Dante may not be considered an A-list director (although he did hover near there in the 80s), but he was once a respected maverick filmmaker. With Burying the Ex, it appears that his spark is gone.

Anton Yelchin stars in Burying the Ex as Max, a young man who works in a spooky store of some sort, but dreams of owning his own store one day. He's dating Evelyn (Ashley Greene), with whom he has little in common. When Evelyn moves in and re-decorates his apartment, Max decides that he's had enough, and his half-brother, Travis (Oliver Cooper), convinces his to dump her. Max arranges to meet Evelyn at the park to give her the bad news, but just as she arrives, she's hit by a bus and killed. Max blames himself for her death and falls into a stupor. He's roused somewhat when he runs into Olivia (Alexandra Daddario), an ice cream shop owner who is also into horror movies. Things appear to be looking up for Max until Evelyn rises from the grave and returns home acting as if nothing has happened. Racked by guilt and confusion, Max doesn't know what to do with this lovesick zombie.

It's been a while since we've seen a case of what Hollywood calls "synergy" and what the rest of us call "suspiciously similar movies". And while it's not a carbon copy like Deep Impact/Armageddon or A Bug's Life/Antz, one can certainly see similarities between Burying the Ex and Life After Beth. Both deal with young women who were in a relationship who have returned from the grave and now want to continue that relationship. While Life After Beth mixes in more drama than Burying the Ex, they both deal with the dead girl decomposing and the realization by the main character that they can't be in a relationship with the undead.

They both also share the distinction of not being very good movies. Life After Beth failed because it could never find a consistent tone. Burying the Ex fails because it is simply a bad movie. Joe Dante isn't necessarily known for a specific visual style, so if you simply showed me Burying the Ex and asked me who directed it, my guess would have been a first-timer. Nothing about this movie hints that a veteran of nearly 40 years is behind the camera. Save for a few crane shots, the whole thing is completely generic and nearly devoid of anything which could be labeled as style. The only thing which stands out as being part of Dante's oeuvre is the appearance of Dick Miller and the presence of old horror movies.

Dante's apparent lack of enthusiasm aside, blame also lies in other places. First of all, the story is full of issues. Why is Max with Evelyn if he doesn't even like her? What the hell is that store where he works? (Are there really stores like that in L.A. which are open year round, and not just at Halloween?) The plot-point which explains Evelyn's resurrection is never truly explained. The second-half of the film devolves into slapstick, which then turns gory in the third act. In other words, few are going to like the entire film, as it shifts gears too often. Secondly, the acting is just as uninspired as the direction. It's hard to believe that Yelchin, who looks exactly like Elijah Wood here, could get one hot girlfriend, let alone two, as he sleepwalks through this movie. Daddario looks uncomfortable in every scene, but it's difficult to tell if this is due to the subject matter or having Yelchin touch her. Greene is the only one who seems game here and puts forth any energy, but that actually makes her appear out of place. I realize that he's supposed to be, but Oliver is pretty repulsive as Travis. Was Dan Fogler not available?

Dante's last film, The Hole, wasn't great, but it had a certain energy and one could tell that he was trying to re-capture the vibe he had with family-friendly films from the 80s. But, Burying the Ex, is clearly a step in the wrong direction. Despite the fact that he directed Gremlins, Dante has never been a household name. (I think that most people assume that Spielberg helmed that film.) But, he's always had a unique voice and he's never hid his love for old Hollywood. However, it's been 25 years since he's made a great movie, and it looks like things aren't going to turn around anytime soon. Not only does Burying the Ex bring nothing to the zombie genre, it hurts the reputation of a once great director and that should make us all die a little bit on the inside.

Burying the Ex convinced me that it's very easy to open a business in Los Angeles on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Image Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The daytime scenes have a noticeable crispness to them and the level of detail is very good. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects have real presence, most notably during the opening credits and the resurrection scene. The stereo effects show good separation and the subwoofer action adds presence to the finale.

There are no extra features on the Burying the Ex Blu-ray Disc.

Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long