A movie review of “Zombeavers”: This B-movie satire about semiaquatic killer rodents is silly but impressive — and backloaded with a twist in its final act. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.

Share story

“Beavers live to be 24,” says a character desperately doing research into semiaquatic killer rodents in the horror-comedy “Zombeavers.”

“Just like us,” says her companion.

That doomstruck but silly tone is typical of this playful scarefest, created by several smart alecks with roots in late-night television comedy and Off-Broadway farces. Paced well and never overplaying its hand, “Zombeavers” knows when to shock, when to bemuse and when to go for the rimshot.

Movie Review ★★★  

‘Zombeavers,’ with Rachel Melvin, Cortney Palm. Directed by Jordan Rubin, from a screenplay by Rubin, Al Kaplan and Jon Kaplan. 77 minutes. Rated R for nudity, violence, language. Sundance Cinemas (21+).

When a group of students ends up in a lakeside cabin for a weekend of sex and relationship dramas, nature strikes back at their wild abandon in the form of flesh-eating zombie beavers. Yes, the movie is as nutty as that sounds, with the bucktoothed critters obviously performed by a puppeteer.

But this is a satire that knows when to surprise. Just when a viewer has settled comfortably into the film’s ironic take on B-movie trappings, writers Jon Kaplan, Al Kaplan and Jordan Rubin (who also directed) lift “Zombeavers” to another level of “The Walking Dead”-like terror.

That shift happens late in the story. But it’s an impressive development that adds a certain anarchy and grit to what had been an extended joke. Then again, the joke is never far away.

Just when “Zombeavers” looks like it’s going out on a note of triumph, the Kaplans and Rubin have the last laugh.