So, yeah, it's a zombie movie. It's also pretty much direct-to-Netflix, so my expectations were not terribly high. The set up where they introduced the state of the world and the different classes of zombies (ranging from class ones which are basically just people with colds, all the way to the "rare" class fives which are violent monsters) is pretty well done and sort of deviates from other zombie flicks which kind of just throw you into the fray. It's not necessarily a better way of doing things but in the stagnant pool of zombie cinema it's okay to do something different.
The main characters were sort of interesting as well. They were pretty generic - the woman trying to find her daughter, the man trying to find his wife, et cetera - but they behaved in a way I thought was believable and the acting was pretty good so I cared enough about their struggles that the moments of danger were pretty tense. The class five zombies were freaky looking too so that helped. There were a few nasty kills too which satisfied my gore-lust.
All that is run of the mill shit for a zombie movie though. What was genuinely interesting about this movie was that it went beyond the "everybody got killed and turned into a zombie and now we must survive" archetype and poked at the societal impact of a disease that wiped out a substantial chunk of the population and turned a fraction of people into bloodthirsty ghouls.
It's explained fairly early on that only certain people get to live in the relative safety of compounds, while the rest of the population is left to starve to death in the city. So most of the dangers that the main characters face are not, in fact, zombie related, but rather uninfected people doing what they have to to get food and so on. I know, that has a real "humans are the REAL monsters" vibe, but it's still more engaging than yet another "uh oh, zombies" movie. It gets to the point later in the movie where infected and uninfected are indistinguishable. All in all it's pretty fucking grim. Like 28 Days Later for people who've never seen 28 Days Later.
The movie was made fairly competently, apart from the audio which was terrible - it had that obnoxious quality of being way too quiet to hear the dialogue but also way too loud during the action bits to turn it up. The first fifteen minutes or so of the movie were well shot and aesthetically pleasing.
Unfortunately, this is also a POV movie, intentionally shot to look like a video game. Remember how in last week's review I said that doing first person shooter scenes in a movie is fucking tacky but excusable if the movie is based on a video game? This movie isn't. This is just a movie made by some dude who plays a lot of video games and thought "hey, what if I shot a movie in the first person, that's never been done before".
So in the interest of making a movie revolving around a stupid gimmick, they sacrificed clarity and made one more shaky, incomprehensible mess (see also: Clovervield, Diary of the Dead, Rec, Quarantine, and so on). The really frustrating thing about it was that it didn't even commit to the first person narrative. The movie jumps between first and third person indiscriminately, which completely defeats the purpose of making the fucking thing first person anyway. Seriously, though, why would anybody make a movie where the action scenes are shot in first person so it's impossible to tell what's going on, but large chunks of the other scenes aren't. Like what the fuck are you doing and why. I don't understand.
Anywho, this movie isn't terrible. It explores some less traveled territory but it doesn't break any new ground. If you're bored and cruising Netflix and not completely sick of zombie movies and/or POV movies, it will occupy ninety minutes of your time. It's definitely not worth going out of your way to see though.
4/10 Thumbs Up
Directed by: John Suits. Written by: Dustin T. Benson. Starring: Rachel Nichols, Alfie Allen, Missi Pyle, Mekhi Phifer, Danielle Rose Russell, Paul Guilfoyle.