Burying the Ex

BuryingExSometimes it’s best to just move on and forget the past, to look on something as a botch job and focus on the future, to not dwell on what could have been. Such is the case of Max and his girlfriend Evelyn whom he once adored but now wants to be rid of.

She is still beautiful and driven, but she is also an obsessive, demanding control freak, criticising his diet and grudging any contact he has with his half-brother Travis, but she is also needy and clingy, suffocating Max and belittling his own goals such as setting up his own horror memorabilia shop allowing him to escape his current employment at Bloody Mary’s Bootique.

BuryingEx1Things come to a head when Max meets and is charmed by Olivia with whom he bonds over archaic breakfast cereal trivia, outraging Evelyn. Max has no choice: they have to break up. He arranges to meet her to lay out his feelings, when tragedy strikes, and Evelyn is knocked down even as she crosses the road to meet him, dying in his arms. But death is no obstacle to Evelyn’s obsessive love or her declaration that she will be with Max forever…

Unfortunately, the most horrifying thing about Burying the Ex, written by Alex Trezza as an expansion of his own 2008 short, is that it is directed by the legendary Joe Dante, a man whose resume has so deftly jumped between horror, comedy and charm through The Howling, Explorers, Innerspace, Matinee and Small Soldiers, even mingling the genres in his most successful works, Gremlins, Gremlins 2: The New Batch and The ‘Burbs.

BuryingEx2Neither are the cast the problem, three quarters of them at least. As Max, Anton Yelchin is as earnest and enthusiastic as he was in Fright Night and Star Trek Into Darkness while former Percy Jackson star Alexandra Daddario brings bubbly life as Olivia, matching Max’s individuality with an endearing wide eyed dorkiness.

Yelchin is particularly poorly served by Trezza’s unpleasant script which is incapable of distinguishing between wishing to end a relationship and wishing someone dead. His character given no time to grieve for Evelyn or without even a clear timeline of events (is it a day, a week, a month?), a natural reaction for anyone suffering a loss regardless of the fact that he was moments away from breaking up with her, he is then shown as a squirming weasel as he is forced to lie to both Olivia and zombie Eveyln.

BuryingEx3Survivor of five Twilight films, Ashley Greene has made a career out of making the best of bad material but here she is left floundering as Evelyn who from the outset is designed as an easy target, a hatchet job instead of a character who shows up the mean spirit of the screenplay where a vegan environmental activist is equivalent to being one bad day away from a full on looney tunes bunny boiler.

Incapable of uttering a single line without coming across as odious and loathsome, Oliver Cooper’s Travis is a blemish upon the screen, a caricature without a single redeeming feature, Evelyn’s horrified reaction to his repulsive misogynist presence fully understandable, though it is never made clear why Max would feel any kinship regardless of blood.

BuryingEx5Some of the Dante hallmarks are present, with Max’s home and work decked out in classic posters, black and white films playing in the background at the Bootique and a cameo from the ever-welcome Dick Miller (Night of the Comet’s Mary Woronov didn’t make the final cut), but it has none of the nuance or depth of his masterworks, screaming straight to video filler with low production values, the bloody aftermath of Evelyn’s accident particularly cheap and nasty.

Not frightening enough to be a horror and nowhere near funny enough to be a comedy, like Max’s relationship this is a misfire better buried on Dante’s impressive resume which comes across as little more than an also-ran beside the similarly themed Life After Beth.