Friday, March 22, 2013

Dead Season

A small note before I start this review: for zombie movies, I have decided to add a section to the bottom of each review called "Zombie Talk", where I discuss the tendencies and rules of the zombies involved.  A lot of zombie movies have zombies based on "The Romero Zombie" (slow, shambling, unthinking, kill with a shot to the head, etc.).  But many zombie movies have their own twist on the Romero zombie.  I think it's important to note the rules around each movie.
And now, without further adieu...

Description from Netflix:
When a worldwide viral outbreak leads to a plague of zombies scouring the earth for the living, two survivors flee the chaos of America to a remote island, hoping for a chance to start a new life.  What they find is unrelenting horror.

My thoughts:
I really didn't know anything about this movie.  I was looking for something to watch through Netflix Instant, and I came across this cover.  Which looks pretty awesome.  The description was generic enough that I didn't really know what I was getting myself into.
What I got was a pretty typical low-budget zombie movie.  With some odd twists.

We mainly follow the travels of Elvis & Tweeter (as opposed to Tweeter & The Monkey Man...that's another movie entirely).  As the movie starts, we find that they have never met in person, but have been in communication over a CB radio.  They have a tentative plan to meet up and head to an island.
But, as we already know, the living are usually a bigger threat to survival than the undead.

And some of the living kind of remind you of Henry Rollins

They come across Kurt and his merry band of misfits.  And by "merry" I mean "kind of crazy."  Generally speaking, when a leader says stuff like, "We do what we need to survive," he's usually talking about their sociopathic tendencies.  Also, if he says that and immediately hands you a plateful of dry strips of meat to eat, you probably shouldn't eat them.  Because they're from a human.  And you know that.  (This is the worst kept secret in the movie.)

Also living within this gated community of cannibals is Rachel, Kurt's teenage daughter.  He is so terrified of her dying that he has kept her locked in her room for 10 months.  He brings her food, but she doesn't eat much of it.  Kurt asks Tweeter to talk to her - as the only other women at the house are older...and whores - and Tweeter and Rachel end up hatching a plan to escape the island.

They make their escape.  They're chased, both by humans and zombies.  This part of the movie has a bit of a 28 Days Later feel to it.  Not nearly as good, obviously, but it's not hard to see how 28 Days Later influenced the last 30 minutes of this movie.

Elvis smash!  Polk Salad Zombie, amiright?!

There were a couple things I really liked about this movie.  For the most part, the main characters used handheld weapons.  Guns were employed from time to time, but they weren't the main weapons that were used.  Elvis used a sledgehammer (see above) and Tweeter used a machete (see below).

I really liked the setting.  The bulk of the movie took place on an island, and it looked terrific.  They operated out of a gated community on a hill, so you could see a lot of the island, which was quite beautiful.  There were also a lot of shots on the beach.  A few times, we got to see zombies staggering out of the trees and onto the beach.  For some reason, zombie-killing in the sand made me happy.
I also thought the acting of the main characters was pretty good.  Scott Peat (Elvis), Marissa Merrill (Tweeter), Corsica Wilson (Rachel) and James C. Burns (Kurt) all did a great job.
That's what I liked.  Here is what I didn't like.

Some of the characters - Elvis in particular - completely changed a couple times during the course of the movie.  Within 5 minutes, Elvis went from extremely wary of Kurt and his psychopathic tendencies to completely on board with a full-fledged maniac.  Then, without a word, back to thinking Kurt was completely in the wrong.  They were a couple of very confusing turns for his character, with little-to-no explanation for them.
My other main issue with the movie will be covered in Zombie Talk.

Overall, I would say that I enjoyed this movie, but there were enough problems with it that I can't really say that I liked it too much.  Some good scenes, for sure, but nothing really amazing.  Still, for a low-budget zombie movie, you could do a lot worse.

Rating: 2.5/5

Zombie Talk:
For the most part, the zombies seemed to be pretty standard Romero zombies.  They were slow, shambling creatures.  A bite from one of them was fatal, and would kill-and-reanimate you in a pretty short period of time (just a few minutes, if I remember correctly).  A shot to the brain would destroy them.  I believe decapitation would still leave the head alive, so only destroying the brain would eliminate the creature completely.  That's why Elvis' sledgehammer worked so well (provided he never got tired, which he never seemed to do), and that's also why Tweeter's machete worked so well, provided it was sharp (which it always was).
They acknowledged that the zombies were slow in this movie, which is not always done.  In one scene, they came across a large number of them in a warehouse.  Instead of trying to kill them all, they basically just ran through them, killing those that posed the biggest threat.
Here was my main problem.
Towards the end of the movie, a few of the zombies could run.  I was paying attention to the movie, and I don't seem to remember any explanation for this.  It was only some of Kurt's guys that were turned, so I thought, "Maybe the newer ones move faster," even though that really doesn't make any sense at all.  To further add to my confusion, a couple of Kurt's guys didn't move fast.  It was only 2 or 3 of them.  How they acquired the magical power of zombie-running, I'll never know.
Maybe I missed it.  But, even if I did, I doubt there's an explanation that makes any sense.  This is the first time I've seen a movie that switches up the rules for zombies during the actual movie.  I'm not a zombie snob: if you want running zombies in your movie, make the zombies run.  It certainly raises the level of stress.  But don't change your rules for zombies while the movie is in progress.


Florian Riepler said...

hello, can you do a review of "American Mary" please :)

Dusty Evely said...

I actually plan on watching that in the next day or two. I've heard good things about it. Can't wait!