On an originality scale, one does have to give the new U.K. zombie-esk mockumentary import "Harold’s Going Stiff" a nod for inventiveness. Using old age and a disease affliction to create the appearance of zombie behavior for comedic set-up is clever for sure. Problem is that the funny is nowhere to be found within "Harold’s Going Stiff" and the only time the film scores an undead goal is when it becomes unintentionally touching and poignant – good director, wrong material.
Harold Gimble is a lonely widower with an affliction. It’s a disease that affects the muscles and makes him appear stiff in his movements. It’s something that is affecting only men and they eventually become enraged and take on the appearance of zombies. A local nurse Penny comes around to help Harold with muscle therapy and the two begin to form an unlikely friendship. But outside there are gangs of vigilantes out to hunt down, stop and destroy all those who walk and talk like zombies no matter what.
Sounds more dramatic then comedic, but "Harold's Going Stiff" is still determined to illicit laughs even when there are none to be had. From the inane work of the three local zombie hunters to the totally unfunny reason behind the epidemic, this one misses the humorous mark on all levels. Strangely it’s the touching moments between Stan Rowe’s Harold and Sarah Spencer’s Penny that stand out here. (They’re fabulous together!) In an out-of-place way, it’s the snippets of quiet humanity and their journey of overcoming loneliness that gives heart to the non-humor and shows what Director Keith Wright could accomplish with the right material.
Look, I’m not against a little laughter amidst my zombie pathos ("Shaun of the Dead" covered all aspects quite nicely!), but someone here forgot the friggin’ funny. My advice is someone give Wright a script with a single dramatic focus to highlight what he seems to be good at – life and un-death isn’t always a joke.
"HAROLD’S GOING STIFF" OPENS IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON VOD AUGUST 20 FROM LEVEL 33 ENTERTAINMENT.
Title: "Harold’s Going Stiff"
Genre: Horror / Comedy
Cast: Stan Rowe, Sarah Spencer, Andy Pandini
Director: Keith Wright
Running Time: 77 Minutes
Release Company: Level 33 Entertainment