Years ago, when Peter Jackson was just breaking in to the film business, it seemed like New Zealand might be poised to be a hotbed, albeit a small one, of horror film activity. Bad Taste and Braindead seemed like the beginning of something major. They were, only they were the beginning of Jackson's long and award-addled career. It didn't really mean too much for New Zealand horror. Just a couple of years ago another Kiwi horror comedy came out and created a bit of a buzz itself, Black Sheep. A horror film about killer sheep? Sign me up! And, it is a fun little movie - one that I recommend you view with some friends and a good sense of humor.
Last year, Affordable Films released New Zealand's latest horror-comedy Diagnosis: Death. They tried to capitalize on the popularity of their country's own Flight of the Conchords and included Brett McKenzie, Jemain Clement, and Rhys Darby. Full disclosure: I love Flight of the Conchords - the show, and the band. The only problem is that these guys are probably in the film for a total of five minutes between them. Yeah, it's a cocktease.
The film itself, a horror-comedy, is surprisingly light on both horror and comedy. It stars Raybon Kan (apparently he's a New Zealand stand-up) as a school teacher that is stricken with a rare form of cancer. He goes to a weekend drug trial to test out new, experimental drugs that may be able to cure him. Sounds reasonable enough, but wait, there's more. It turns out this hospital used to be...wait for it...a MENTAL INSTITUTION! dun-dun-dun. And, as if that wasn't enough, some famous author supposedly killed herself and her child in this very same ward!
The movie is basically a ghost-story-mystery thing disguised as a comedy. The laughs are few and far between, the revelation at the end is predictable, and the horror is cheap and stupid. That said, the two minutes of screen time that are alloted to Rhys Darby had me rolling - he's basically playing Murray as a doctor. I was able to watch it with a friend and we managed to enjoy ourselves by adding our own, MS3TK-style commentary to the film and rewinding the Rhys Darby's final scene (he gives a great look at the end of it) multiple times. Fortunately, they keep things fairly light and every once and a while the jokes will land so you should be able to get through the film.
Because we were able to enjoy ourselves while watching, I'll give it a 5 out of 10, but it really doesn't deserve anything higher than that. I advise you not to buy this one. It may be worth a rental if you are a big Conchords fan or would like to watch something light and silly with some buddies on a weekend. I advise against watching it by yourself, too, as you'll have no one to crack wise with.