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BURYING THE EX (director: Joe Dante; screenwriter: Alan Tressa; cinematographer: Jonathan Hall; editor: Marshall Harvey; music: Joseph Loduca; cast: Anton Yelchin (Max), Ashley Greene (Evelyn), Alexandra Daddario (Olivia), Oliver Cooper (Travis ), Dick Miller (Grumpy Cop), Archie Hahn (Chuck), Mark Alan (Goth Bartender), Mindy Robinson (Mindy), Ozioma Akagha (Kat); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Alan Tressa/David Johnson/Frankie Lindquist/Mary Cybriwsky/Carl Effenson/Kyle Tekiela; RLJ/Image Entertainment; 2014)
“A strained sexist rom-com.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Joe Dante(“Small Soldiers”/”The Hole”/”Piranha“), a director I much admire, this time has a misfire. The talented Dante can’t do with this film what Val Lewton did with all his horror pictures–make art-house cinema out of exploitation B-movies. What we have instead is schlock art and a strained sexist rom-com.

Nice guy nerdy Hollywood horror enthusiast, Max (Anton Yelchin), works as a clerk in the Bloody Mary’s novelty monster costume shop and cutely comes and goes to work in a push scooter. It’s a job he hates because the boss makes him say programed responses to customers, like to those leaving he must say “Go to hell.” Max is also in a challenging live-in relationship with the control freak beauty blogger Evelyn (Ashley Greene), whose every move is calculated to be in line with her do-gooder social causes. Enough is enough for Max, despite the great sex, when Evelyn has a jealousy hissy fit over Max’s flirtation with kooky novelty ice-cream store owner Olivia (Alexandra Daddario). Unable to bear her nightmarish manipulations and kill-joy moods any longer and pestered by his low-life party animal boorish half-brother Travis (Oliver Cooper) and his rants for him to dump her so he can party again in Max’s pad, Max plans to break-up with Evelyn when they meet in the park. But before Evelyn meets Max, she’s run over by a bus.

After the funeral, the guilt-ridden Max begins a relationship with Olivia. He goes with her to see The Night of the Living Dead, and is happy they share the same interests. Soon after, Evelyn digs her way out of her grave and turns up in his house as someone undead, with a bruised face and flies circling around her. It seems a guardian angel figurine, a ‘Satan genie,’ delivered to Max in the store, granted her a wish and she chooses to return to reclaim Max any way she could.

Before this trivial story comes to its unsatisfactory ending, there are at least several amusing Dante set-pieces and a priceless Dick Miller cameo. Miller is the grumpy station-house desk cop, coming out of the toilet, when our nerd hero tells him the story line as he requests help and the cop says to Max “Are you pulling my pickle?”. This might be enough to recommend the film to Dante’s fans.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”