Zombie Apocalypse

Dir: Nick Lyon
Star: Taryn Manning, Ving Rhames, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Gary Weeks

This workmanlike but largely uninteresting zombie flick opens, after a brief introduction, six months after the usual epidemic has progressed as normal, wiping out most of humanity and turning the rest into flesh-eating ghouls. Ho-hum. We follow a small group of survivors as they head across the US, trying to reach Catalina Island, where there is supposedly a) sanctuary, and b) the husband of a whiny survivor. On the way, they have to deal with zombies, both human and animal (more on the latter later), get split up, encounter another, rather more militaristic group of survivors, etc. Nominally an "original" Asylum movie, this is a hodge-podge of elements from previous zombie movies; new ideas, such as the zeds learning to hunt, are hardly touched before being discarded. Though much the same could be said about almost every other entry in the genre: it's rare to see something genuinely original, since most angles have already been used. To be honest, part of the appeal is the comfortable familiarity; you know someone will get bit and turned, for example, so when it happens, it's like putting on a comfortable jersey.

So what matters is the execution, and that's a decidedly mixed bag here. Rhames, reprising his role from the Dawn and Day of the Dead remakes, is definitely a higher-profile actor than the Asylum can usually afford, and his presence lends the film weight. The gore is plentiful, with beheadings and head-shots in plenty, and the make-up effects are decent. However, there are some horribly sloppy moments, mostly involving the use of computer-generated imagery, that completely take the viewer out of the moment. For example, a machine-gun being "fired" while the belt of bullets on the side remains completely static, or a hand-grenade explosion which leaves a car intact save for some digital flames from the front. And don't even get me started on the "ziger" [you'll know what it is when you see it], that shows up - for no apparent reason - at the end, and turns the climax into a sniggerfest of terrible interaction between humans and CGI. Not even the best Asylum zombie movie (falling well short of Dead Men Walking), the end result is just another zombie flick in an ongoing cinematic apocalypse, with no particular reason to pick this one out from the shambling masses.

[November 2011]

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