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With sizzling, authentic dialogue and stellar performances, “As We Know It” is a light, highly entertaining addition to the zombie subgenre.

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Infected Soy Milk leading to an outbreak of the ravenous undead? Pam Grier being Pam Grier? Discourse on the merits of Waterworld? You know this is going to be a fun and wild ride.

Written and directed by Josh Monkarsh, with writing help from Brandon DePaolo and Christopher Francis, As We Know It brings late 90s Los Angeles to life, with sun-drenched vistas and two dysfunctional friends trying to survive an unexpected apocalypse brought on by an adverse reaction to soy-milk.

James (Mike Castle), a mildly successful writer, is dealing with writer’s block and a traumatic break-up. Bruce (Oliver Cooper) is his best friend, who manages to navigate his way through life and survive the apocalypse so far.

A turn of events re-introduces the Ex, Emily (Taylor Blackwell), back into their world, bringing with her another set of complicated issues the unlikely threesome must overcome as they must escape the mounting carnage around them.

As We Know It concentrates on the interplay between the main characters rather than filling the screen with badly filmed gore or effects. Bruce and James share a strong, comfortable chemistry that sells their relationship, with a deadpan James finding ways to delay an energetic Bruce from executing his escape plan to Seattle. Bruce has this way of just saying the right thing but in the wrong way.

It feels exactly how close friends would behave.

The gravity hits home as the pair witness their first attack, and Bruce starts trying to get them both out of the house and out of LA.

The script doesn’t show signs of having multiple writers and flows well.

James seems to have one speed and this amazing ability to find selfish blockers that prevent Bruce from getting them both out of dodge.

Every interaction between the two friends is true to life — from the siphoned gas tank to the requirement of ordering takeaway while watching the home video and then arguing over the choice of food. Pitching Waterworld as Peak Kevin Costner and having it as their particular hill to die on is something that rings incredibly true.

I could have watched an entire film of nothing more than the two leads sitting there, sharing the gift of friendships while the whole world burns around them.

When Emily enters, the dynamic changes.

She is leaving with her friends for Seattle and wants to clear the air before she leaves. Of course, Zombies happen and trap her there with the two people she really didn’t want to be with. Emily and Bruce are like oil and water, especially with her views on Waterworld.

Introducing Emily provides a tense “will they or won’t they” plot narrative, as we wonder if the end of the world can rekindle an old flame.

Emily observes from a different place where she is constantly working out how people like Bruce have managed to avoid a horrible death. Blackwell nails her performance. It’s not that she doesn’t like the men; she doesn’t seem to understand them.

As the zombie apocalypse lands at their front door, James tries to push both his best friend and his ex-girlfriend away, hiding within himself. Meanwhile, Bruce — ever the loyal and reliable best friend — tries to get him to feel things again.

It’s these moments between the two leads where As We Know It really shines.

The dialogue flows effortlessly and effectively sets up the final, satisfying act of the film.

Did I mention Pam Grier as Miss Jones?

To be fair, her presence amounts to an extended cameo. But the little onscreen time she has is an absolute delight, playing a woman who will not leave until that ‘flip-flop wearing Mother-fucker’ arrives to fix her cable TV and will not cancel her appointment — zombie apocalypse or not.

It’s not a traditional survival horror in that it owes more to Shaun of the Dead than Day of the Dead in how it plays out.

It’s the examination of a close relationship that just so happens to be set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. It could have been set against anything, and it would have worked.

Having Emily in there was necessary in order to provide the foundation for the final act; otherwise, they may never have left their house. Taylor does enough with her character to add substance and sits well amongst the key players, but it’s definitely the James and Bruce show.

The ending is spot-on and completely fitting.

An easy-going, enjoyable treat, As We Know It has all the requirements to become a cult classic and more than enough to keep you engaged.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3.5

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