I liked Joe Dantes previous movie, “The Hole”, and think it’s a little underrated. Yes, it’s mostly for young adults/teenagers, but I liked the threat, some of the revelations, and thought that despite some funny scenes it was genuinely creepy – something at which Joe Dante usually excels at. However, with “Burying the Ex”, he’s almost totally in comedy-territory, and I really missed the scarier moments of his previous work(s). While entertaining enough, his latest outing is a rather bland affair, and completely harmless. While it features horror elements like curses and zombies, ultimately, this is a pretty lighthearted teenie/twen-comedy that has more in common with romantic comedies than with horror. Which doesn’t make it bad per se, of course – but unfortunately, the humor is just as safe and harmless as the movie itself.
The worst thing about “Burying the Ex” were the extremely bland and clichéd characters. Max is your typical immature, nerdy manchild, Evelyn his oh-so-repressive girlfriend who has no appreciation and/or sympathy for his hobby, is a control freak, and holds him back and keeps him from following his dreams. And on top of that, she’s clingy as hell. And on the other side of the spectrum, there’s Olivia, who shares his interest in horror, and just overall seems more like a fantasy/wish fulfilment for men than a real human being. The worst of them, however, is Max’ one-dimensional half brother Travis, who is just a caricature; the not that good-looking guy who still get’s the hottest girls, and who sleeps with them in Max’ apartment so that they don’t learn where he lives – which is oh-so-funny. Pretty much all the gags surrounding him fell completely flat for me – your mileage may vary.
The explanation for Evelyns return was a little contrived, but I was willing to buy into it for the sake of the movie. However, I hoped for a different conclusion. I think it would have been better if all that Max had to do was to man up, tell her how he feels, and break up with her – and that would then also break the spell. Alas, that’s not the direction “Burying the Ex” is taking, which provides us with a rather generic and unimaginative showdown instead. That said: I found the movie to be entertaining enough. There are a couple of nice gags and allusions to well-known horror movies, the three leads give good performances, and the chemistry between them is nice. And of course I enjoyed the obligatory Dick Miller-cameo. Also: I really liked the fact that Evelyn knows that she is (or was) dead. There definitely is some fun to be had with this movie – but it’s as safe as it gets, and I really missed the bite that made earlier works of Joe Dante so great and special. “Burying the Ex”, on the other hand, is merely ok, and nothing special at all.