Posts Tagged ‘zombies’

Year Released : 2010

Director : Mark McQueen

Cast : Craig Fairbrass, Myanna Buring, Danny Dyer, Jaime Murray, Shane Taylor, Shane Taylor, Bart Ruspoli, Craig Conway, Lisa McAllister and Colin Salmon

Being English I have a strong affection for many British horror films, including 28 Days Later, The Cottage, Tormented, Severance and Creep, but alternatively there are some awful ones as well, Night of the Living Dead : Resurrection, so whenever I find a horror from my home land then I do get somewhat excited.

After finding “Devil’s Playground” on Netflix I got the feeling that this was trying to achieve the same success that the aforementioned “28 Days Later” did given it’s raw appearing nature, but the cast doesn’t fill me with excitement or optimism.

This will turn out to either be great, or a pile of crap. I get the feeling I know which.

Plot

Cole (Fairbrass) is a problem solver for Peter (Salmon), the CEO of a major medical corporation. The company has tested a new drug on 30,000 volunteers, but it caused major medical issues for the vast majority of them and now Peter is determined to get to the bottom of it so he can avoid being sued, but whilst examining one of the infected he is bitten, as is Cole. Cole manages to obtain the last three vials of anti-virus that will hold off the infection 18 hours at a time.

To find a permanent cure, he knows that he will have to find the only volunteer who reported no side effects, Angela (McAllister). She herself is still trying to get over her husband Joe’s (Dyer) imprisonment for killing a teenager, although he is adamant that he did it in self defence.

Cole does eventually find her, as does Joe after he gets bail, and the trio end up working together with some other survivors in order to escape on a helicopter with limited space in east London, but the other survivors start to team up against them as they get paranoid thoughts about being left behind.

As good as “28 Days Later”, or even remotely unique?

There is not a chance in hell that anyone will watch this and think that it is on a level even close to that brilliant zombie-like (28 Days Later is not a zombie film) movie, or even the slightly less engaging and interesting sequel. The one thing that I will say is that I have never seen a zombie film that features so many of the infected knowing parkour.

Throughout the near 100 minute run tie is zombies running over and jumping over objects that they have purposefully gone towards to jump over, even though it would be considerably easier to simply go around, especially when they’re chasing food.

That isn’t the only oddity about this movie as there is a big plot hole at the beginning of the film. The company that produces the medication that eventually zombifies the population is getting sued by those who took it, but the problem with that is that they are volunteers and would almost certainly have signed paperwork that doesn’t make the company liable in the event of side-effects. I’ll grant you, it’s not a major plot hole, but right from the off it is starting to have a lack of sense.

Unfortunately the problems don’t stop there as most of the characters are horrendously one dimensional and aren’t built even slightly well. It becomes a bit tedious as you don’t feel any semblance of sadness when certain characters start dying. Their lack of intelligence doesn’t help with this either as they know that people who have been bitten will turn, but they keep them around anyway. These people are basically fodder for the zombies, and it is effectively natural selection in all of its glory.

I like to try to come up with at least one favourable comment per review, but unfortunately there isn’t really a lot that is going on here that is that exciting, or even remotely interesting. I was sat there late at night, bored by one dimensional characters and action that is so stop-start that you could easily turn it off and not feel remotely sorry about it.

There are some great British films out there. This isn’t one of them.

Summary

Full of characters that aren’t interesting, several relationships between actors played by people with no chemistry, and an overall boring story, “Devil’s Playground” is one of the least imaginative zombie films I’ve seen. It offers little new to the genre, and it is something that I’ll have completely forgotten about by the time I watch the next zombie film that I’ll review.

I am really struggling to come up with a single positive about it, and based on that I have to say that it is probably best if you miss this.

Every apocalypse deserves an after-party!

Director : Steve Barkerthe-rezort-1-500x760

Year Released : 2015

Starring : Jessica De Gouw,  Dougray Scott, Martin McCann, Elen Rhys and Claire Goose

You know when you see a trailer for a  film and you know exactly what films have influenced it, that’s basically the cast with “Rezort”. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is clearly inspired by the “Jurassic Park” franchise and is basically the exact same film, but with dinosaurs replaced by zombies. As you can probably tell, I’ve actually watched the film before starting this review, which is very rare for me as I tend to want to do just the opening section first, and leaving the rest until afterwards.

I’m not going to say at this stage whether I liked it or not, but it would appear that if I do then I would comfortably be in the minority as “The Rezort” currently has an average rating of just 5.1/10 on IMDB from just over one thousand votes, comfortably a low ranking film.

So, before I get onto telling you whether I joined the majority, or was in the minority, I suppose I should tell you about the plot.

Plot

Several years after a worldwide outbreak of a zombie virus was finally stopped, one woman (Goose) saved several of the zombies that were created on an island just west of Africa. The resort, called ‘Rezort’, allows people to take their frustrations out on zombies, but one of the guests (Rhys) implants a virus into the system and it causes all safety measures to fail. All of the zombies are suddenly free to roam the island.

A group of tourists are trapped out in the park and their guide realises that ‘Brimstone’, a weapons based purge of the island, has been implemented and they only have a few hours to make it to the dock for a boat that is supposed to get staff off of the island. This is made even trickier when all staff on the island are killed, meaning that virtually no access routes to the boats are actually free.

rezort-film1-h_2016

So, am I in the minority of people who liked it?

Whilst I will say that there were the odd bits here and there that I did like, I am definitely more in the camp that don’t like this film.

Now let’s address the obvious, this is basically a zombified rip of off the “Jurassic Park” franchise, right down to even minor things. Now don’t get me wrong, finding inspiration from another film is not a bad thing, afterall, my favourite film “Willow” has obvious inspirations from the “Lord of the Rings” novella by J.R.R. Tolkien, but unlike that “Rezort” doesn’t use that well.

Here are the similarities/blatant rip offs;

  • There is a boat that takes the staff members off of the island
  • There are fences separating large areas of the park
  • The computers are struck with a virus by someone who seemingly merges into the background
  • None of the other supposed computer experts can fix this
  • The characters end up in the control centre, trying to avoid those that are eating them
  • The characters go out into the park in a safari jeep
  • There are two annoying youths who are the only people competent with computers in their group.

I could go on and I’m sure if I was making a list as the film went on then I could easily fill a A4 piece of paper.

the-rezort

The problem with this film is that is feels completely unoriginal and doesn’t offer anything that I haven’t seen before. Everything, even the bits which aren’t a blatant rip off of Jurassic Park scenes, feel like something that I have seen numerous times before and it’s hard to really get excited about watching it. Infact I would go as far as saying that whilst I wasn’t bored, I certainly wasn’t enthralled.

This isn’t helped by a bunch of stereotypes that are portrayed as characters. For example, Dougray Scott’s “Archer” is given little, if any, character development or story. He is just this guy that is a sharpshooter, rarely missing, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the actual character outside of this characteristic. In many ways he is similar to the character of Muldoon in “Jurassic Park” but without any semblance of a secondary characteristic. For example, Muldoon is quite clearly a very stern and to the point character, but he is humanised by a clear fear of the dinosaurs, especially the raptors, but Archer just seems to take everything in his stride. It feels effortless.

Deaths feel completely uninspired and out of the blue. There is very little tension created in the build ups to several the death of some of the characters, and the zombie attacks sometimes literally came out of nowhere.

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Summary

Even if you can ignore the blatant rip of the “Jurassic Park” films then you’e still unlikely to join a film that will feel very familiar. There is very little originality in the run time of this film and in the end I found myself not really caring about the fate of those on the screen.

There isn’t any real tension or anything remotely resembling a worthwhile plot.

As it’s on Netflix at the moment it’s not like you’ll need to go out of your way to watch it, but I would certainly not actively recommending that you select it for playing compared to the other zombie films that are currently on there.

So we’re now into the top half of the countdown for this. We’ve made it through films that, for the most part, I would never go out of my way to watch again. However, don’t assume that just because these films in this list are in the top half that they’re automatically good films. There were a lot of bad films out this year, especially in the latter half of 2016.

So for 50 to 41 we are looking at a variety of films from some very different genres. There are horror films, romantic comedies, stories within stories and arguably the most debated and talked about reboot in recent years.

So here we go.

50) The Girl with All The Giftsthe-girl-with-all-the-gifts-movie-poster

Cast : Sennia Nanua, Paddy Considine, Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close

Plot : A zombie outbreak has decimated the population of the UK, leaving the majority of those that have survived in army bases. They have learnt however that the outbreak can be controlled and children at the key, not showing any signs of zombism unless they are exposed to flesh inches from their face. They are taught in a classroom by Helen (Arterton), who notices very early on that Melanie (Nanua) is her brightest student.

Zombies quickly break through the fence, leaving only a handful of survivors able to escape, and they soon realise that Melanie might their only hope of survival, but what will she make of the outside world, especially when an opportunity arises?

Why in this position? : If you took out the first fifteen and the final ten minutes then this would have been an excellent zombie flick, even though it had the distinct disadvantage of having the diabolically uncharismatic void of emotion that is Gemma Arterton in it.

The middle hour or so of the film is arguably as good as any other zombie film that I’ve seen set in the open world (as in not confined to a specific location, such as most of George A Romero’s films). That sixty or so minutes are full of tension and genuine threat, and not to forget well built characters. There was actually a time that I was considering this for a much higher place on the list.

However, as I’ve mentioned, the first fifteen and the final ten minutes are, for lack of a better word, just not very good. The central character of Melanie just isn’t that interesting, and is the equivalent of that kid in school that would bring the teacher an apple (well, we don’t really do that in England, but I imagine it’s still a thing in America). This isn’t helped by the aforementioned bland acting of Gemma Arterton.

Combine this with an ending that is a bit out of left field (another American saying), and I couldn’t really consider this movie to be anything more than average, at best.

 

49) Ghostbustersghostbusters_ver11

Cast : Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth and Neil Casey

Plot : Abby (McCarthy) and Erin (Wiig) are both highly respected scientists, but when the latter objects to the re-release of a book about paranormal activity that they co-wrote several years ago. They do team up to investigate a reported case of paranormal activity with Abby’s colleague, Jillian (McKinnon). Their video of the incident sees all three fired.

They decide to continue to invest all of their time hunting evidence of paranormal activity, but they soon start getting into more than they bargained for.

Why in this position? I think it’s fair to say that there were no films released this year that divided opinion and caused as many arguments as “Ghostbusters”. My own personal concern was that it just didn’t look funny, or at least not compared to the previous films in the franchise, and I think there in lies the problem. Had this just been a film about ghost hunting that didn’t use the name “Ghostbusters” then I think this would have fared far more favourably than it did.

I didn’t mind “Ghostbusters”, it wasn’t a classic in any sense of the world, but it could be considerably worse to put it nicely. The acting from the four lead women is decent enough, which is something that I never thought I’d say about Melissa McCarthy, but it is most definitely Chris Hemsworth that steals the show as the charmingly stupid Kevin.

I actually quite liked the visuals, and despite looking very cartoony in places, I thought it was very vibrant, thus establishing a less serious tone that the original. It’s a technique that can be taken in either a good or bad way, but it helps in some ways separate it from the originals, whilst in many ways paying tribute.

The main problem with the Ghostbusters reboot, other than their attempts to cram in as many references and cameos from the original as possible, is that the antagonist is just so unengaging. The very fact that I had to look up on Google what the antagonist’s name was should tell you all about how unforgettable he is.

 

48)The Infiltratorinfiltrator

Cast : Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger and Benjamin Bratt

Plot : Special agent Robert Mazur (Cranston) has just successfully come out of his latest undercover role when he is placed under the alias of Bob Musella in order to break into the upper regions of the local drugs cartel, headed by Pablo Escobar. He is placed with the abrasive Emir Abreu (Leguizamo), who struggles to make Mazur believable.

Despite the struggle, Bob does successfully get into the higher reaches of the cartel. Bob’s story is so believable that Kathy Ertz (Kruger) is hired to pretend to be his wife, but its enough to convince many involved, but both feel guilty when they develop a strong personal relationship with Roberto Alcaino (Bratt), making it harder for him to get in.

Why in this position? : When I saw the trailer for this Bryan Cranston lead vice-style film, I got excited. It looked exciting, fresh and had a decent case, but much like several other films on this list, it is largely forgettable.

I went to watch “The Infiltrator” less than 48 hours ago (at the time of writing) and I couldn’t tell you a single character name other than Abreu (obviously I looked them up for the above plot when posting the article), who is played excellently by John Leguizamo. It’s just so forgettable and not really engaging. Leguizamo certainly isn’t the only person putting in a good portrayal, with Cranston doing very well too.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an awful film by any stretch of the imagination, and it does draw you in quite well, but the problem is that the central plot of the film is the central character climbing the drugs cartel ladder, but it all feels completely effortless. Not once did I feel during the film that the character wasn’t going to achieve that goal (for the record I didn’t know that this was a true story go in).

Not awful, but certainly not great.

 

47) The Danish Girlthe-danish-girl-eddie-redmayne

Cast : Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts and Ben Whishaw

Plot : Einar (Redmayne) and Gerda (Vikander) are happily married in 1920s Denmark and they are both keen artists. Einar is considerably more successful that his wife, but is willing to help her and wears a dress for one of her portraits, but this reignites his secret desire to be female. Gerda encourages him to go to a party as his female alter-ego, Lili, but whilst there she witnesses her husband kissing another man, Henrik (Whishaw).

With both becoming distraught, Einar realises that he can no longer live as his old self and seeks surgical help, as well as starting to work in a perfume store and starting a relationship with Henrik, all to Gerda’s horror.

Why in this position? : The first film that I saw during 2016 was ultimately one of the most disappointing as it was quite clearly designed to be Oscar-bait. It had a great cast and being transgender myself, I was interested in the subject matter, but ultimately it’s just told in a way that whilst not awful (which is quite clear by the fact that there was 53 films below it in this countdown), just doesn’t get you emotionally invested at all.

Eddie Redmayne is reasonable as the main character, and Alicia Vikander is highly competent in her role, and with a strong supporting cast this should have been a much better film that it ultimately was. Visually the film is great as well and whilst I can’t claim to be an expert on 1920s Denmark, or indeed any point of Denmark’s history, it looks like what you’d expect from a Scandinavian country almost one hundred years ago.

I think the main problem with this is that it seemed to have an aura that it automatically expected to be considered a great film without really having to work overly hard for it. I wouldn’t even class this as a great film about transgenderism, and there are many better films about the subject matter out there that haven’t got the Oscar-bait machine behind it.

It’s not awful, but it’s not something that I’d actively try to see again.

 

46) Pete’s Dragonpd_teaser_1-sheet_v2alt_lg

Cast : Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dalls Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban and Oona Laurence

Plot : Pete (Fegley for the most part, Levi Alexander aged five) was involved in a car accident when he was five years old that killed his parents. Whilst walking away he is chased by wolves before being saved by a dragon. Over the next few years he adapts to life in the woods, living with his the dragon, whom he calls Elliott. One day he sees other humans though, more specially a girl named Natalie (Laurence), and all of her family eventually manage to find Pete.

He is taken to hospital and cared for by Grace (Howard) and Jack (Bentley), the parents of Natalie, but it’s Natalie’s uncle, Gavin (Urban) that everyone has to worry about as he saw the dragon and intends to use it for financial gain.

Why in this position? I’ve never seen the original animated film, it never really interested me, but one Saturday morning this was on at the cinema I was working at at the time and so I thought “why not?” Whilst it certainly wasn’t a classic, and did drag at times, it wasn’t actually that bad.

Oakes Fegley (what a name by the way) puts in one of the better child performances of the year as Pete, and to be fair the entire cast does a good job. It’s also good to see Karl Urban in the role of an antagonist, but what I especially liked it that he wasn’t an antagonist for the sake of being one, you understand where his character is coming from, and that’s rare for films.

The only problem with “Pete’s Dragon” really is that whilst it develops characters well, there isn’t that much going on for the majority, and I can see why a lot of kids didn’t like it. Even as a 32 year old adult I was getting somewhat bored at times waiting for something to happen. Don’t get me wrong, when it does start happening it’s really good, it just takes a while.

 

45) Alliedalliedposter

Cast : Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard and Jared Harris

Plot : Max (Pitt) is sent to Morocco during World War Two to assassinate a high ranking German official, his partner is Marianne (Cotillard), a French spy. The two train relentlessly, with Max’s boss Frank (Harris) keeping a close eye on proceedings. The pair do eventually assassinate the German, as well as several others, and Max celebrates by asking Marianne to marry him.

Why in this position? After a year of marriage and one child later, Max is called into his local headquarters for meeting. He assumes that it is for a promotion, but when he arrives he is told that they believe his wife to be a German spy. They give Max instructions to answer a call and write down what is said on a piece of paper that Marianne can easily locate, and it would show up in a German transcript a few days later. Max complies, but defies orders by actively trying to prove his wife’s innocence, but that’s easier said than done due to conflicting reports.

Why in this position? If there was one type of film this year that was surprisingly absent compared to other years, it’s a war film. I could be wrong but I think this was the only mainstream one (the only other one I can think of wasn’t mainstream, but will appear on this countdown), or at least one that was set during the time of World War Two, and they decided to cast Brad Pitt for what is his fourth film set in the time period of the last few years (the others being Fury, Inglorious Basterds and some scenes in Benjamin Button). That being said, don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a war film, it’s not.

“Allied” is a very interesting film in the sense that is basically a large puzzle piece and you’re never entirely sure about whether the character of Marianne’s allegiance until the very final scene, and I love films that keep you guessing to the end.

The only reason that this didn’t place higher is that I just find Marion Coutillard to be a very boring and lifeless actress. I can’t recall a single performance from her that I have been impressed by. She is very monotone in her delivery, and I don’t think that’s to do with English not being her first language as there are plenty who fit that description and are livelier than her.

 

44) Nocturnal Animals20161014175110nocturnal_animals_poster

Cast : Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Armie Hammer

Plot : Susan (Adams) is an owner of an art gallery who one day receives a manuscript for a novel from her estranged husband, Edward (Gyllenhaal). He dedicates the book for her, causing her to rekindle her feelings and want to meet with him, especially as she is in a neglectful relationship current husband, Hutton (Hammer).

She sits down to read the novel and it tells the story of a man (also Gyllenhaal) who is ran off the road by a gang leader (Taylor-Johnson) and forced to watch as his wife and daughter are abducted, later found raped and murdered. He sets about getting revenge with the help of the local deputy (Shannon).

Why in this position? It’s a bit tricky to talk about this film because it’s effectively a story within a story. We’ll call the Amy Adams section “P1” (short for Part 1), and the Jake Gyllenhaal sub story “P2”.

Had this film just been released as P2, obviously extended otherwise it’d be a very small runtime, there would have actually been a chance that not only would this have featured much higher up, but also a potential top ten candidate. The section starring him, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is arguably one of the most emotionally investing parts of a film that I have seen this year.

P2 is expert film making at it’s finest, and I was drawn into it’s story, the look and feel, as well as the acting from the three main characters, especially ATJ, who plays something completely different from what he has done before.

However, as good as P2 is, P1 is the complete opposite and something that I just couldn’t get behind, no matter how hard I tried. It was just generic and any time they cut back from P2 to P1, it felt like someone had slammed the breaks on in an extremely hard manner. It kills any momentum that P2 has built, and one of the reasons for this is that it just isn’t that interesting.

 
43) Kubo and the Two Stringskubo

Cast : The voices of Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, George Takei, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes

Plot : Kubo (Parkinson) is an imaginative child that is told expressively by his mother that he must be home by sundown, or his evil family will be able to find and kill him. One day however he fails to do that and is quickly found by his evil aunts (both Mara), who promises that his grandfather (Fiennes) is coming. Kubo’s mother soon dies.

Distraught, Kubo realises that his only chance is to get his father’s ancient armour. He is soon joined on his journey by a talking monkey (Theron) and a giant cockroach (McConaughey), but whilst they aim to protect him, can the evil power of Kubo’s aunts and grandfather prove too much?

Why in this position? : On the face of it “Kubo and the Two Strings” is a charming look at a coming-of-age tale of a young man against a seemingly overwhelming evil, and it is easily the most visually unique film I saw this year, however, despite having some good jokes in there, two genuinely creepy antagonists (the witch sisters just to confirm) and a likeable main character, the problem with the aforementioned film is that is just completely forgettable.

At the time of writing this mini-review, I watched it less than 24 hours ago and I am already at the point where I can’t remember large parts of the plot, other than there are a LOT of ex-machina moments, and I largely found myself withdrawn from the story throughout.

That’s not to say that “Kubo and the Two Strings” is awful, far from it. It’s animation style is relatively unique and it is one that I never considered for the bottom 10, not even close, but if I was to describe it as anything other than forgettable then I wouldn’t be accurate.

 

42) The Finest Hoursthe-finest-hours-poster

Cast : Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, Eric Bana, Casey Affleck, John Magaro and Kyle Gallner

Plot : Bernie (Pine) is a Coast Guard in Massachusetts, and one day he meets Miriam (Grainger). The two fall in love and plan to get married, but as per regulations he has to ask permission from his commander (Bana). As he approaches him to ask, news comes through that an oil tanking has started sinking.

Due to everyone else being at other rescues, Bernie is sent to rescue the crew along with the largely reluctant Richard (Foster), as well as Richard (Gallner) and Ervin (Magaro).

With time against them, they soon realise that their boat simply won’t be big enough to rescue everyone safely.

Why in this position? : “The Finest Hours” is not a bad film, not by any stretch, but the problem is that it’s just not very interesting or exciting.

Let’s start with the romance section of the beginning of the film. I really liked that part and it’s nice to see a relatively fresh face in the role of the leading lady, something that only ever really happens in the horror genre. Holliday Grainger is arguably the best part about this otherwise generic film.

I love the look and feel of the film though. It feels very coastly, if that’s even a thing, and they take great care to make it at least seem authentic, but the problem is that it’s just kind of there. It’s not really overly interesting, and that’s a big shame as with the cast it should have been a lot better.

I think what lets this film down the most is that the consequences just don’t feel that vital. Whilst you know what’s going on, you never get a real sense of danger and that feeling that they’re not going to achieve rescuing the majority of people. When there are no stakes, there’s nothing driving you towards getting emotionally invested.

 

41) Bridget Jones’ Babybridget

Cast : Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Sarah Solemani and Sally Phillips

Plot : Bridget (Zellweger) is firmly in her midlife crisis safe and has largely accepted that she’s never going to get with anyone, so one day she joins Miranda (Solemani) in going to a festival. There she meets the hugely successful romance expert, Jack (Dempsey) and the two quickly have sex before Bridget leaves in the morning.

The next day Bridget runs into old flame, Mark (Firth) and it again ends in her having sex. Several weeks later Bridget realises that she is pregnant, but she isn’t sure who the father is and therefore tells both of them that it is their child, but it isn’t long before they find out the truth and there is a rivalry between Mark and Jack.

Why in this position: “Bridget’s Back” bellowed the tag line for yet another trilogy completer, but the problem with any trilogy that you face is that realistically you need to have seen the first two to have any real sense of what is truly going on. I’d never seen either of the first two Bridget Jones films, so this meant that I was effectively going in blind.

Ignoring that I tried to get into the film and there were some bits that I genuinely enjoyed about it. It is a very feel-good comedy, and I do like the concept, afterall, it’s a fairly routine plot as one that has been done before.. The execution Is fine and overall there aren’t really any major complaints that I have with the film’s relatively long run time. The acting is competent and the telling of the story is relatively well structured, even if the ending is a little tooing and froing.

I can’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t like it. It’s not an awful film by any stretch, and I suppose being this high up on the list isn’t a bad thing when you see how many films I’ve watched this year, but is this something that I would actively watch again? No, probably not.

Maybe it’s one of those that you really have to watch with the first two to get in the swing of it.

Never, never EVER, grab another man’s balls, in a fistfight. It shows low character.

Year Released : 201510911315_851903121529059_3486466075104065835_o-578x851
Director : Kiah Roache-Turner
Cast : Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradley, Keith Agius, Cain Thompson, Berwyn Schwerdt, Catherine Terracini, Meganne West and Luke McKenzie

Ahh, The Horror Channel, you lovable rogue. For those of you that don’t live in the UK there is a channel that specialises in low budget horror films that is simply called “The Horror Channel”. If I wanted to I could simply dedicate this site to the movies that are on there and I would virtually never run out of material as they’re always showing some random film from the middle of nowhere, and chances are that they’d be rubbish.

Don’t get me wrong, down the years it has shown some decent films, and even some big, Hollywood films, but they are definitely few and far between. However, it’s not for the big films that I watch it, it’s because I hope that I find a hidden gem, and when I saw that there was an Australian zombie film I thought I’d give it a chance, afterall, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a zombie movie from Australia.

I’m also relatively optimistic going into it because it has a reasonable score of 6.3/10 on IMDB at the time of writing, which is far bigger than a lot of the other films that I have liked, so there’s hope yet. Having said that, this is a zombie film, and good zombie films are few and far between.

Plot

Barry (Gallagher) is with wife Annie (Terracini) and daughter Meganne (West) are all living their lives when a meteor shower happens when he receives a call from his sister Brooke (Bradley) following an attack from her colleagues. She has noticed that a lot of people have turned into zombies and warns them to get out of the city, a warning that they take seriously as they leave. Everything seems fine until Meganne and Annie remove their gas masks and both quickly turn, with Barry left to kill them.

One failed suicide attempt later and Barry asks another man named Chalker (Yovich) to take him to Brooke, although he is quickly killed by a further man named Benny (Burchill). Despite being pissed off at Benny for killing someone who was quite useful at killing zombies, Barry soon pairs up to rescue Brooke, but little do they know that she has been kidnapped and is currently being experimented on by a doctor (Schwerdt).

Along the way they stumble across more survivors, but it’s just a matter of time before their struggles seem insurmountable.

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Worthy of such a relatively high score on IMDB?

There are a lot of varying entries to the zombie genre. There are the classic George A Romero franchise “of the Dead” and the reasonably good “World War Z” and “28 Days” franchises (although the latter isn’t technically a zombie film), this is followed by those that aren’t really that good but at least tried, and then there are those that are just nonsense, “Wyrmwood : Road of the Dead” falls very much into the latter of those three categories.

I was sat watching this and it was only when I was reading the Wikipedia summation that the plot started to make sense, as if you tried to follow it whilst watching the movie then you’re going to struggle. It’s just nonsensical throughout it’s relatively long run time and what makes it even worse than a ridiculous plot is that the characters in general are stupid. If you imagine everything that you would do if you were in a zombie apocalypse, i/e run, hide, etc, now imagine the exact opposite that is precisely the thought pattern of most of the characters within this film.

The problem, aside from the plot, is that the film is very poorly acted, especially from Leon Burchill as the character of “Benny”. I’m not sure whether he took inspiration from Tommy Wiseau’s performance in “The Room”, or anything Dakota Fanning has ever done, but for me it was one of the most cringeworthy, over-the-top performances that I’ve seen from someone who quite clearly has no acting ability. I mean I have no basis for comparison when it comes to his acting in terms of other films that he is in, but it’s one of the rare occasions from films I’ve reviewed for this site in which I can confidently say that if I saw his name on the cast list of a film in future, I would actively avoid watching that film. It was that bad.

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I like to come up with at least one positive for every film, but I can’t think of a single one from this lengthy movie and that’s a big shame as I was waiting for something remotely positive to happen, and yet I was still there at the end with nothing redeeming that would encourage me to want to watch it again in the future.

Normally one positive I would look for is the secondary characters, because some times I have disliked the main character but found the secondaries to be quite enjoyable, but that wasn’t the case with “Wyrmwood” and this isn’t the fault of anyone in the cast, but the problem is that other than the odd exception here and there, secondary characters are killed off within minutes of appearing on the screen. There’s no effort put into developing the majority of them, or even giving you the slightest inkling as to what they are like, not even so much as a back story. They are there pure and simply to increase the body count.

There is more to a zombie film, or any movie in the horror genre for that matter, than simply having a large body count, and the true classics that involve numerous deaths in not only this genre, but also pretty much any genre, build their characters up so you at least care about them to some extent, not just have them there to increase the amount of deaths you can show on the screen.

Unfortunately the film has virtually no redeeming features.

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Summary

“Wyrmwood : Road of the Dead” is not a good film and full of nonsense moments from start to finish. The acting is comically bad throughout and there are very few, if any, redeemable features throughout it’s lengthy run time.

Whilst there are far, far worse zombie films out there than this, there are definitely far, far, far better ones and ones that are more worthy of your time, time that the I strongly advise you would be better suited and spent elsewhere.

Don’t waste your time.

Year Released : 2014MV5BMTQ3NDE1MDgxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDg2NzA4MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_
Director : Turner Clay
Cast : Justin Ray, Jerod Meagher, Dennis Leech, Ron Hanks and Michael Taber.

So I’m finally coming to the end of my month of horror films leading up to Halloween and I’ve decided that one of the final ones will be one that’s been on my “Films I Want to Watch” playlist on Youtube for a while, zombie film Disaster L.A. I thought it looked reasonable but the reviews have been very negative and the score on IMDB is a pitiful 3.6/10 (at the time of writing).

However, I’ve decided to stick with it for the reason that I’ve reviewed plenty of films that have looked crap and have had poor ratings and been left surprised. I’m not going to lie, I get the feeling that it’s not going to be the case this time but you never know.

So let’s get on with it then, three days and three reviews to go and then I can sit and relax.

Plot

A group of friends has recently relocated to Los Angeles and they are all enjoying life in their new city, although slacker Turner (Meagher) is the only one who has failed to secure work. The group are at a party when the ex-girlfriend of John (Ray) turns up with her new boyfriend. The two get into an argument and she leaves.

Soon after the group sees a report stating that a meteor that had previously gone unnoticed will pass by the Earth, just avoiding it. When the meteor passes L.A becomes covered in a strange smog. Everything seems fine at first and the smog passes, although Adam (Taber) is now feeling very ill.

Reports start to reach the group of people being attacked around the city and the news is now advising them to stay indoors and not interact with anyone. The group witnesses first hand one of their friends turning and decide that they must leave as soon as possible, although John refuses to leave without checking his ex is fine.

What’s the worst that could happen?

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Better than I was expecting?

No, definitely not. Disaster LA tries it’s hardest to come up with a relatively new take on the zombie apocalypse theme and whilst the “radiation from a comet” is a new one as far as I’m aware, the rest of the film is just so lackluster that you end up laughing more than feeling scared.

The film just looks terrible and is not hiding it’s low budget very well, for example, when the news of the new meteor/comet comes on the news (something which NASA somehow managed to miss apparently), they show you the moon and because it’s got such a low resolution they think they can get away with saying that it’s the comet/meteor and it blatantly isn’t.

That’s just one of a plethora of carelessness throughout the film, others include characters just glaring at the zombies when they are hurtling towards them, zombies literally coming out of nowhere in the middle of the car park (massive open space, clearly nothing around on the wide angle, and then a zombie appears as if they’ve been there all along), the mild indifference when they see each other being eaten, and two far more idiotic levels of disregard that I’m going to focus on now.

DISASTER LA 2

There is a scene where a character is being chased down stairs by a set of zombies and the very fact I can’t remember the name of that character should tell you all you need to know about how much I care about his fate. He opens the door and then stands on the other side, holding it in place whilst the zombies desperately try and get through, however, when he runs off it’s shown that the door was actually a push door from the side he was pushing against. The side he is on is the push side of a door, so pushing it would have completely the opposite impact of what he’s trying to achieve and would allow the zombies in easily, especially as he starts pushing against it well before the zombies that are coming down the stairs catch up to him…..and yet no-one involved in the film seems to have noticed this.

And then, about 20 minutes from the end, the surviving characters are driving through a car park before seeing a zombie, slamming their breaks on and panicking as they don’t want to run them over. They then shout at her to move out of their way, almost as if she is blocking the entire road, the only problem with that is that she isn’t at all. There is at least 25 feet either side of her so they could have easily driven around, avoiding hitting her whilst also getting away. Their car is then stolen after they stop, yet there was no need to stop as they don’t have any space in the car. It’s just so feckless about it’s own logic, and the characters are so incredibly stupid, that you stop caring about them.

I liken that scene to the one in Austin Powers where he is on a steam roller, a guard is terrified he is about to get run over and doesn’t move through fear…and yet the steam roller is still a fair distance away and is going at a snail’s pace. It’s the same level of character stupidity and there’s no horror in a film where people are supposedly trying to avoid death, but who’s every action seems almost designed to put them in danger.

The “horror” throughout feels unnecessarily forced, convoluted and most definitely not scary. It just doesn’t flow at any point and everything feels beyond forced, and because of this I struggled to enjoy the film on any level, and I can see why it’s got such a low rating on IMDB.

I wouldn’t even be so bothered if it hadn’t blatantly stolen a major plot point from Cloverfield. Before they claim that they didn’t, both films have characters that are trying to survive events caused by extra-terrestrial bodies after a party celebrating their relocation. Soon the ex-girlfriend turns up with her new boyfriend and the main character gets jealous. When the main plot of the story starts occurring, the characters know that they must leave the now army-filled and quarantined city as possible, but the main character must go into an apartment building and find his ex-girlfriend. Later on in the film they are re-united and barely make it out alive. Granted, it’s not the main plot of either film, but that is a large portion of Cloverfield’s plot that Disaster L.A has stolen.

It is basically a lower budget, much crapper version of Cloverfield.

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Summary

If you can switch off all common sense, logic and all that you’ve ever been taught about basic physics then you will probably enjoy Disaster L.A, but if you are capable of thought and reason then there’s not a chance that you will enjoy this film. It is beyond ridiculous.

When you make such stupid mistakes then you can’t be taken seriously, and even worse is having characters that look at a zombie that’s running towards then and seemingly not even be slightly alarmed.

If you’re going to watch this, do so in the knowledge that you’ll probably laugh at it’s stupidity more than being scared.

Once you go Norse, you’ll never remorse

Year Released : 2014file_605864_burying-the-ex-poster-640x948
Director : Joe Dante
Cast : Anton Yelchin, Alexander Daddario and Ashley Greene

It occured to me that what I haven’t done a lot of during this run of horror films is review a horror film that is mixed with another genre, and based on that I have decided to go with comedy horror “Burying the Ex”.

I must admit that I first heard of this around a year ago and wasn’t interested in it whatsoever, but I’ve decided to give it a chance because I figure “what’s the worst that could happen?”

As well as the above, it occured to me recently that despite having featured in two of the biggest sci-fi franchises of all time (Star Trek and the Terminator), Anton Yelchin has never really kicked on as you would expect, and he has a considerable lack of hits, so it’ll be interesting to see if I can spot a reason why this is the case, if indeed it’s caused by anything other than a personal choice on behalf of him. I would also recommend one of his other films (Alpha Dog) as he is excellent in that.

Plot

Max (Yelchin) works at a local gothic accessories shop and thinks nothing of it when he takes a delivery of a seemingly harmless model of a genie. He places it to one side but it is later found by his vegan girlfriend, Evelyn (Greene), and again without thinking anything of it, the two make a promise to be together forever. Neither notices the model’s eyes turn red and it start smoking. Soon after they go to get ice cream as a store that sells horror-named ice cream (such as Frankenberry) and Evelyn launches into a rant at Olivia (Daddario), the server behind the counter.

The two of them get into a fight and in his absense, Evelyn re-decorates their apartment to be 100% environmentally friendly, including folding up Max’s previously pristine movie posters. After talking to his brother, Max phones Evelyn to make things up and asks her to go to the local dog park with him so that they can talk, but Evelyn fails to look properly when crossing the road and she is battered into by a bus. Evelyn dies minutes later.

Soon after the funeral Max runs into Olivia again. They start a relationship, although Max doesn’t tell her what happened to Evelyn, but whilst walking through a cemetery together, Evelyn resurrects. She visits Max and he is understandably terrified and confused. Evelyn reveals that she now knows that her resurrection was caused by the genie status, but she now have considerable more insufferable than before and he must find a way to rid her from his life.

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So were my initial instincts of not being interesting correct?

I am mixed on Burying the Ex because it has a lot of positive and very macabre moments, but there are other sections of the film which were tedious beyond the point of reasonability.

Let’s start with the positives and Anton Yelchin again delivers for me as the socially awkward guy that can’t find it in his heart to tell his girlfriend how he feels, even when she’s turned into the undead and doing various sex acts to her is effectively necrophilia. Much like a lot of his other roles, he effectively catches the nervy nature of the character and the insecurities contained within. Yelchin was perfectly cast in the role as the guy with an unusual taste in things, such as his choice of job. He is becoming getting to that point where I expect him to be cast in a socially awkward, or ambitious nerd/geeky style character.

In terms of the actual film itself, whilst not fantastic it kept me interested for a long period of time and although it did feel a little dragged out towards the end, it was at least a relatively original concept and was unlike anything I had seen before (at least nothing that I can think of off of the top of my head anyway). For that I give it a lot of kudos, it was trying something relatively new, and again, I will cavaet that by saying that I can’t think of anything similar, so my apologies if I am incorrect with that statement.

The soundtrack is also very effective and at first I thought Phosphorscent’s “Song for Zula” was a strange choice for a song to be playing over a funeral, but then as it transitions into Max’s mourning for Evelyn it actually starts working very well. I had never heard the song before, but having listened back to it since watching the film I can definitely say it fits the mood of the scene excellently.

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Now that the pleasantries are over, it’s time to get onto the negatives and I have to start with the biggest question that comes to mind and that is why were Max and Evelyn ever together? They have precisely nothing in common and I refuse to believe that they would have ever gotten together in any situation as they are just that different. She thinks he needs to grow up from his fascination over gothic/macabre stuff, and he gets increasingly frustrated with her veganism and obsession with the environment. It’s hard to emotionally get invested in a couple that you’re never convinced should be together anyway.

Then we get onto the complete irrelevance of Oliver Cooper’s Travis to the story, other than a bit of comic relief. You could take the character out of the film and the majority of the story wouldn’t even be slightly impacted at all. The character is just the stereotypical slacker style character that you get in a lot of these types of film and if there’s something that I never want to see in horror films, it’s stereotypical and cliched characters.

Despite my earlier praise of Yelchin’s portrayal of the character, the character in question is somewhat tedious to watch. His life would be so much easier if he truly wanted it to be and it wouldn’t have been too hard for Max to actually tell people the reality of the situations. For example, there is no actual reason for him not to tell Olivia that Evelyn is dead. I can understand him not wanting to tell Evelyn that he wants to break up with her because he’s scared, but there is genuinely no reason for him to keep Evelyn’s death from Olivia.

Infact, it’s almost like two completely different films as before her death it is just a mildly annoying comedy-horror, but afterwards it starts bordering on tedium as Evelyn keeps referencing to people that she is already dead without actually telling people she’s dead. This becomes a common theme throughout the entire film as for some reason people just start skirting around the issue.

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Summary

Burying the Ex just seems to have several issues with various aspects of it’s story and although it flows relatively nicely and keeps me interested in the story, it is obvious why it’s only got average marks on IMDB. It’s not awful by any stretch, but it has too many issues to even start considering giving it the approval stamp.

All of the characters’ issues could have easily been solved if Max just told people how he feels, and that is why the film ultimately didn’t work for me. It relies entirely on Max being unable to tell people the truth of the situation.

Watch it if you must but there are far better zombie films out there.

 

I have 50 DVDs, none of them are pirated!

Year Released : 2012MV5BNzg2ODUxOTIzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDM0NzAzOA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_
Directors : Makoto Kamiya
Cast : Matthew Mercer, Courtenay Taylor, Salli Saffioti and Val Tasso

Cast your minds back to early 1997, Clinton is in the White House, France are preparing to host the 1998 World Cup after the recently completed Euro 1996, and somewhere in Lincoln, England, is a young child (well, I say young, I was 12) being given a computer game by their brother that would change their life forever. That game was Resident Evil.

My brother had bought it for himself (note that my brother is 16 years older than me) but could never get beyond a certain enemy (the giant snake encountered about 20 minutes in) and so he gave it to me. I beat that enemy at the first attempt and my passion for zombies started there and there.

18 years later and not a lot has changed. I still buy Resident Evil games when they come out, no matter how poor they are these days, and I still go and watch the movies, again, regardless of how poor they become. So it was with a delight that as I continue this build up to halloween with a review of a horror film every single day, that the animated Resident Evil : Damnation doesn’t seem to be that well known, with a relatively low amount of votes on IMDB, so it gives me a great chance to talk about something that I love, or at least used to love.

This is probably the longest intro I have written for a review so far and with just cause, I am passionate about the franchise and along with Monkey Island, Mortal Kombat and a few select others, the Resident Evil franchise helped define me as a person and I certainly wouldn’t like as many

I believe that this is also the first animated film that I have reviewed for this website.

Plot

Following on from the events of Resident Evil 4, Leon Kennedy (Mercer) is sent on a mission to the Eastern Slav Republic to confirm if Bio-Organic Weapons (shortened to BOW for the rest of the review) are being used in the battle and then report back to his boss. However, following an explosion Leon finds his contact half dead before finally being finished off by a BOW known as Licker. The Licker is about to kill Leon as well before it is ordered not to by an unseen figure.

Leon awares to find that he is being tortured by local rebel fighters. When soldiers invade the hide out, Leon manages to escape and befriends one of the men who was previously torturing him, JD (Tasso). They are soon attacked by a group of people who have been infected with the Las Plagas parasite, but they just manage to escape. Upon escaping Leon runs into Ada Wong (Taylor), a woman who he has previously had run ins with during the events of Resident Evil 2 and 4.

Ada reveals that she is in the country to steal a sample of the Las Plagas parasite and has been trying to con the local government into given her a sample, all before fleeing mysteriously. Leon soon reunites with JD, but it turns out that he was infected with the parasite and Leon shoots him, but with a horde of infected individuals on his tale, can Leon survive long enough to escape the country and stop Ada from escaping with the sample, or will some new BOWs be the end?

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So why not review the first animated Resident Evil movie instead?

I might still do before the end of this run of films leading up to halloween because the two aren’t linked in many ways at all really, they’re completely different, but I wanted to start with a film that I actually like, mainly because I’ve reviewed six horror films in this run and only one has got the approval stamp so far.

So let’s start with the obvious talking point and that is if it stays true to the canon of the series, including the characters, and yes, they definitely try and maintain canon with the rest of the franchise and they succeed.

Leon is my favourite character from the computer games and his personality is captured perfectly, unlike a certain other Resident Evil film that I won’t mention because of how diabolically shit it is, oh go on then Resident Evil Retribution. Oh, sorry, I deviated slightly. Yeah, the best part about Leon in the games that he seems like a no-nonsense kind guy, but then constantly comes out with one-liners and quips that bring you right back into his story if he is getting bored.

This is down in no small part to the voice acting of Matthew Mercer, the same vocalist the provides the voice for Leon in the games, and they have perfectly captured Leon’s essence in Damnation and it is a relatively smooth transfer for the character. All of the characters from the games that also appear in Damnation are voiced by the same voice actors/actresses, and this makes such an important difference as you have an automatic connection to the characters, and whilst this is meaningless to people who have no prior knowledge of Resident Evil, it means a lot to those who are already fans of the franchise.

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Damnation has stuck to the canon exceptionally well, unlike the live-action films and that is so important to fans of the game. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a fan-service film, whereas the live-action are for those that have never played the game, but as a fan of the game I appreciated this effort far more than the live action films. The live actions films have made a poor job representing all of the characters from the games, such as Jill, Leon, Chris and many others that it doesn’t even feel like it’s canon, one of the many reasons that the live action films are poor.

It’s not all great though as the animation is sometimes clumsily executed. Various characters walk like they’re trying to desperately wait for a toilet break, and there are numerous times where the character is saying something and the mouth movement doesn’t even closely resemble what they’re trying to say. Obviously this is difficult in animation, but most other films at least get it reasonably close.

Other than that though, the film is relatively decent in terms of the look and the lickers in particular (below), look sublime, although they are also one of my other points of contention with Damnation.

 

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Without trying to give too much away, the lickers have always been one of the most feared enemies within the Resident Evil franchise, especially in Resident Evil 5 in which you face a lot of them in a cramped area all at once, but in Damnation they are effectively relegated to being someone’s pet. If you’ve seen the live action Apocalypse film in the franchise, picture what they did to the Nemesis and it’s a pretty similar situation.

However, other than that and the slight issue with some of the animations, I don’t really have a bad word to say about the film. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s what films are about. Not everyone is going to watch a film and love it, especially films based on a computer game, but for me this is the second best Resident Evil film to be released (the first live action film is one of my guilty pleasures).

 

Summary

The film is definitely designed to be more of a fan service than a film that non-fans of approvedthe franchise will enjoy, however, I believe that there is enough there to keep those that are previously not fans of the franchise to enjoy.

Whilst the animation is careless at times, it is definitely a better addition to the Resident Evil canon that the live action films and for that I can forgive minor mistakes,

This isn’t an out and out horror film, but there are definitely numerous horror elements involved and I think that if you’re after a horror/mystery/action style film then you could do far, far worse.

Since you’re all going to be dead soon anyway, I should tell you. I hate every single one of you.

Year Released : 2014cooties-711x1024
Director : Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion
Cast : Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill and Jorge Garcia

The zombie franchise is one that has, no pun intended, died a very slow death in recent years due to a plethora of predictable and boring approaches to the subject matter. Ranging from the Paul Anderson’s horrible Resident Evil films, the bland final installments of George A Romero’s “of the Living Dead” series and countless found footage films, the genre really hasn’t been having a good run recently, and even the Brad Pitt hit “World War Z” has done little to improve the general perception of things.

Growing up I was a huge fan of the genre and have probably seen more than 100 films based on the zombie theme. Resident Evil is to this day the only film where I have ever listened to the director’s commentary, and I feel passionately that if done right, this is a great genre, hence why the first review I ever wrote on this site was for a zombie film, but the number of decent zombie movies never really increases by the years, with very few even making it into the high tolerability range.

So I wait here with anticipation to see if a cast of well known actors can pull off a decent horror flick…..I’m not going to hold my breath as I’ve seen plenty of films with decent casts be abysmal, but I suppose I should give it a chance.

Plot

Clint (Wood), a writer who has spent the last few years in New York, has returned to his home town of Fort Chicken to take up a teaching job whilst writing his next book. Within minutes of starting he has already alienated him from most of the staff, with the exception of Lucy (Pill), a childhood friend, who is genuinely pleased to see him.

Meanwhile, a student bites into a chicken nugget in the canteen and starts showing signs of illness. Clint walks into his first lesson with his new class and is immediately antagonised by Patriot (Cooper Roth). Patriot then turns his attentions to the girl who ate the chicken nugget after she starts breathing heavily, and she reacts by biting a huge chunk. After taking Patriot to the nurse, Clint and Lucy sit down for a meal in the staff room, completely unaware that the playground is full of children attacking each other and the few adults that remain. They do eventually realise what is happening when socially awkward teacher Doug (Whannel) comments.

The teachers all realise that they need to escape the school to survive, but they also stumble across some unaffected children that have seemingly started adolescence, and Doug theorises that the virus is only affecting those that have yet to go through puberty. With this and the knowledge that they can’t be turned, the teachers all try and break out, all the while watching helplessly as the children make short work of unsuspecting parents that are coming to pick them up.

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Is it a decent zombie film or the typical nonsense?

There are a lot of parts about Cooties that I like, but there is also a bit that I dislike and therefore I am slightly torn over whether it was decent or not.

Let’s start with the positives and there is no better place to cement the foundations of the positive part of this review than talking about Elijah Wood. Wood’s portrayal as the neurotic main character is near perfect, it suits him right down to the ground and it was almost like he was born for this role. Wood has that great ability to portray a character who is very needy and self-absorbed, but is somehow still likable.

There is a scene right at the beginning where Clint is getting the children in his new class to read out the manuscript for his new book and it sums the character up perfectly. He is eagerly anticipating a positive review from the children and the level of excitement on his face is wonderfully caught by Wood, but deep down there is also the underlying sense of ego as he doesn’t realise it’s inappropriate to waste the lesson time with personal endeavors. There is literally no realisation in his face that what he is doing serves no-one but him.

He is just one of a wonderful cast of characters and Rainn Wilson is the standout performer after Wood. He plays Wade, a character that I’m not entirely sure I can sum up easily due to the complexity of his nature. The character develops so much during the film and is completely different by the end. You don’t really get characters that develop that much during a relatively short run time, although it does make the character seem a bit inconsistent at time.

There subtle jokes that the film pulls off are quite clever, such as Wade appearing to be your typical jock style teacher, only to turn out to be horrendously bad at basketball. In many ways it is not only amusing, but does add something to the character, i/e the bravado isn’t justified or backed up in any way whatsoever.

And finally on the positive side of things is something that you don’t see that often in zombie films, infact I can only think of two others with a similar trait, and that is that the zombies use tactics to get what they want. This adds a new element of danger to the film as you know that they’re not completely mindless, they are capable of killing people and the characters could die at any minute. That’s what I want in a horror film, I want to feel that characters could die at any minute, hence why I loved Lost After Dark. If I know which characters are going to survive within the first five minutes, what’s the point?

Mini Spoiler for You (go past the picture to avoid) : All of the main characters survive

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All of that being said, there were a few things that left me slightly away from the “liking it” feel and the first of those was the very last scene. I’m not going to go too far into it because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it is blatantly obvious that the filmmakers are leaving it wide open for a sequel, and sometimes it is just not needed. It’s perfectly possible to make a movie that doesn’t need a sequel and it still be a success.

For example, my Top 5 films of 2014 were (in order of 1-5) Nightcrawler, Wolf of Wall Street, Guardians of the Galaxy, Gone Girl and X Men DOFP, three of those will almost certainly never have a sequel, and they don’t need them. Not every film needs to be left open to the possibility of a sequel and sometimes laying that foundation if a sequel isn’t really justified. Because of the way it ended Cooties doesn’t really feel like a finished film and I was left largely unsatisfied with it, almost making the previous 80odd minutes that I had invested feel almost worthless.

Whilst I liked it on the whole and did find it relatively amusing, there were also a few jokes that were obvious nods to the previous work of some of the actors and they are delivered in a way that the watcher is meant to go “I see what you did there” and it feel completely natural, but it rarely works. The example in Cooties is when Wade calls Clint a hobbit, an obvious nod to Elijah Wood’s role as Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (and the brief cameo at the beginning of The Hobbit). It’s a nod that just isn’t needed, it doesn’t add anything of substance to the film and is an obvious attempt at being funny….and unfortunately it just doesn’t work.

At times the story also feels like it is standing still and long segments pass where not a lot is actually happening other than the characters having a chat, and whilst this allows for good character development, the slow nature of the film meant that the second half of it’s near 90 minute run time felt almost like a slog towards the conclusion, and if anything the film was about 10 minutes too long.

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Summary

A fun zombie romp that quickly loses it’s mojo about half way through and limps towards an unnatural finish. The ending feels largely unnatural and disconnected in so many ways from the rest of the story. This causes many issues, not least of which is that the final 15 or so minutes feels like they’re setting up a sequel rather then concentrating on finishing off the film they currently have.

That being said, Cooties is one of the more original zombie films I’ve seen in a while and maybe it’s due to the antagonists being children, something which is very rare in comedy.

I’d say if you’re a fan of zombie movies then you’ll probably enjoy this quite a bit, but the ending felt almost unwarranted and for that I can’t give it the normal approved stamp.

The ring is the only place that you can kill a man and get away with it…..

Year Released : 2014Untitled
Director : Cody Knotts
Cast : Shane Douglas, Jim Duggan, Roddy Piper, Matt Hardy and Kurt Angle.

Recently I started training to be a pro wrestler (I bet you didn’t expect to see that as the opening sentence to this review) and after two weeks I was invited to join the closed Facebook group in which all of the trainees could discuss ideas and whatnot. One of the group then posted this DVD and I knew instantly that I had to watch and review it.

There are just films every now and then where you pretty much know EXACTLY what you’re going to get before the film starts and this is one of those. In many ways I don’t want to watch it because I know in advance just how bad it is going to be.

As usual I write this section before I actually watch the film and I go in with the lowest of low expectations. The film may have only had 190 ratings on IMDB, but an average score of just 3.9 doesn’t fill me with much hope. That being said, more than 20% of the raters have said it was worth a 10 out of 10, compared to “just” 18.9% voting it at 1%. Obviously these figures could and probably will change by the time you read this review, but yeah, low expectations doesn’t even cover it.

This is going to be a long 90 minutes…..

Oh, and by the way, if you’re near Lincoln this Sunday (June 28th), go to Birchwood Leisure Centre to check out the Academy Show for Lincoln Fight Factory Wrestling. I will hopefully feature in the future, but for now please support my fellow trainees.

Plot

Whilst wrestling at a small independent show, Shane Douglas (himself) sees that a love interest has moved onto someone else and that person happens to be his opponent. As revenge, Douglas decides to purposefully deliver a move incorrectly, breaking the neck of the opponent and killing him. Whilst Douglas moves on with his life, the wrestler’s brother vows revenge and negotiates a deal with a sorcerer/demon/devil (it’s never really revealed) that brings the dead back to live. His plan is to lure Douglas to a fake wrestling show within a prison, and then unleash the zombie hoard.

Douglas is convinced to go to what he believes to be a normal wrestling show and is joined by several other wrestlers, including Matt Hardy, Jim Duggan and Roddy Piper (themselves). Shortly after arriving, the group is attacked by zombies and the majority survive the first wave. Meanwhile, Kurt Angle (himself) turns up as a surprise entrant to the event but he is quickly overwhelmed and turned into a zombie.

As the group gradually becomes scattered, egos start taking control as various members, mainly Douglas, start to intentionally get the others killed to save themselves and they all start to realise that if they are to survive, it won’t be by working together.

Hacksaw-Zombie

So does it deserve a 10/10 as several people think on IMDB?

Well let’s put it this way, there are films that are worth a ten out of ten, the true classics. Then there are some very good movies, then decent movies, followed by average, less than average and awful. Somewhere well beneath awful is 50 layers of crap and several levels underneath that is this film. If I did ratings out of ten then it is highly, highly, highly possible that this would actually get a negative score.

I hear you asking why and it is hard to really put it into words without simply encouraging you to watch the film.

Let’s start with arguably the thing I hate most about independent films and that is claiming that their most famous cast member is a prominent part of the story. This isn’t the first film that I’ve reviewed to be guilty of this as “Zerophilia” acted as though Kelly Le Brock was important to the film when she wasn’t in it after the first 60 seconds, and even then she isn’t exactly a relevant name these days. Wrestlers vs Zombies is pretty much exactly the same.

Kurt Angle is arguably the most prominent star in the film going by the DVD cover, afterall, he is front of the group, therefore hinting that he is the main star in this film…..but he is in it for what is literally about 75 seconds. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an anti-Kurt Angle thing, he brings credibility in terms of a genuine star of the sport with his Olympic pedigree and title belts in various promotions, but to advertise him as a main part of the story is beyond a joke.

To sum up just how much of a joke it is, his addition adds precisely nothing to the story. I do mean literally nothing. You could take his 75 or so seconds out of the film and it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference to the story given that he doesn’t encounter a single other main character before being turned.

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Problems like this continue throughout the entire film and it’s just careless film-making. Obviously each of the wrestlers is playing a fictionalised version of themselves, but at one point Shane Douglas hints that whilst he was in the WWF (now known as the WWE) in the 1990s, he had cheques that consistently bounced from Vince McMahon. Now, I know that the company wasn’t the mega power in the mid-1990s that it is now, but to suggest that a cheque from what was still a multi-million dollar company, owned by a billionaire, would bounce is pure nonsense.

The whole film is just careless and it’s hard to believe that it was conceived by a wrestling fan and there are mistakes throughout that are just too hard to ignore. The entire film seems to be “if you made a mistake then fuck it. An example of this is during the opening match between Douglas and the jobber, Douglas covers him and shouts “cover him” at the ref instead of “count it”, he quickly corrects himself but even then, why would a wrestler ask a ref to cover his opponent for him? More importantly, when it’s a blatant mistake from Douglas, why was it left in the film? Don’t give me the nonsense of people make mistakes, the film portrays Douglas as a big deal and an outstanding professional, he wouldn’t make an error like that in a match.

Ignoring the stupid mistakes is hard, but even harder to ignore is the near constant music. In a 90 minute film I would estimate that there is a total of five minutes without music blaring in the background, and whilst in places the music works well, in others it is strange that they have death metal blasting out whilst characters are doing a very casual jog down a corridor with no zombies in sight.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few parts of the film where the music fits, such as when the wrestlers are in the ring and are surrounded on all sides by the zombies, but when there is no obvious danger, I don’t need adrenaline inducing music. It just doesn’t fit and in what is a largely poorly made film.

I can’t even begin to think of a genuine and deserved reason why people would mark this film as a ten out of ten on IMDB. The only vague excuse I can think of is that either people enjoyed it because it was so bad (similar to how I felt about Let There Be Zombies), or that they are wrestling fans and felt almost bad for it being so poor, but neither are a genuine reason for giving this film a favourable rating as it is a very poor film.

What surprises me even more is that several well respected wrestlers agreed to take part in the film. It’s not like the five wrestlers that are in the film are unknowns that are trying to make their names in the business, all five have claims to the Hall of Fame. Angle is arguably the best pure wrestler in history, Hardy is one half of the best tag teams in history, Piper and Duggan are from an era which attracted people my age into the sport, and Douglas infamously started the onscreen separation of ECW from the NWA. None of them needed to feature in this film.

Had this film been full of independent wrestlers who were trying to make a name for themselves then I would understand, but none of them are. I have no idea why they would all allow themselves to be involved in such a pathetic and poorly made film, it makes no logical sense.

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Summary

I can’t even begin to recommend this film. It is not only trash, it’s the worst kind of trash.

Don’t let the big wrestling names fool you, they add little quality to this film but I can forgive them for that for the simple reason that they’re not actors, they’re wrestlers. Whilst wrestlers do adopt acting into their everyday jobs, it’s not the be all and end all and I very much doubt that any of those in this film will ever move into acting full time.

If you must insist on watching this film, go in with the lowest of low expectations.

 

Year Released : 2015AQG7l3v
Director : Henry Hobson
Cast : Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson

I’m about to do something that I have never done before and that is review a film that has yet to be released in the UK that is due for a cinema release. Having friends in various film companies, I occasionally get DVDs of films that haven’t come out yet and I get to enjoy them long before most people do. For example, I first saw The Theory of Everything in October 2014, a few months before it was released. I chose not to review that film (although I wish I had as it was exceptional), but I’ve gone with this because at the moment it isn’t well known in the UK, that despite it’s prolific main star.

I’m not going to lie, I’m not a fan of Schwarzenegger. It’s very rare that I have watched a film of his and been impressed with his performance. The only exceptions that I can think of are as the Terminator in, well I’m sure you can guess which franchise that is. The reason for this is because due to his accent, Schwarzenegger does sound a bit robotic in terms of his speech and delivery of lines, so it felt like a good match.

I’m going into this film without really knowing a lot about the plot as I tend to find that’s working for me a lot recently. I didn’t even watch the trailer, which is very unusual for me, although I am guessing from the poster that this is something to do with zombies, I just hope that is isn’t filled with clichés.

I am also aware that this is considerably higher profile than films I normally review. Just to put people’s minds at ease, I won’t be switching to mainstream films permanently, although as I have previously mentioned, if I think that it’s worth including then I will, but it won’t be often.

Also, just to make it easier, I am going to refer to him throughout the review as Arnie because, quite frankly, Schwarzenegger is too complicated and long to write on a regular basis.

Plot

Wade (Arnie) finally finds her daughter, Maggie (Breslin) after several weeks of looking. He quickly realises that she has been bitten by someone who was infected with a deadly virus and he is advised to get her quarantined as soon as possible. He decides to ignore the advice and takes her home.

Whilst trying to fend off the infected that are trying to get into their house every now and then, Maggie’s condition continues to degrade and when an accident on a swing ends up in her index finger being severed. The infection is spreading and the only thing keeping her going is her relationship with Wade and her friends, all of whom are also infected.

How long can she last before she succumbs her hunger for flesh?

602

So, is it worth the watch when it’s released at the cinema?

Well, it’s hard to say as after watching it, it doesn’t seem like a cinema type film. It’s almost one that would be best if it went straight to DVD. In many ways I liken it to similar film by the name of Carriers, staring Chris Pine. Carriers is a similar film in many ways that was also release at the cinema, but didn’t really feel like it should have been. Now, this might be because I am watching this at home rather than at a cinema but it just doesn’t feel like something that belongs in a cinema.

The film starts off exceptionally slow and not a lot is really happening. It takes a long time (relatively) to get past the logos that normally come at the beginning of a film. I can’t really put this in a way that will some it up better than saying it in a way that one of my favourite Youtube channels would say. So with that, as Cinema Sins would say, “68 seconds of logos” *ding*. Now, I know 68 seconds isn’t a long time but you’re just sat there waiting for them to end so you can actually watch the film, and it just takes a long, long time.

Even after that, it takes a while to get into the film and at the time of writing, I am nearly 20 minutes into the film and other than Wade taking Maggie home after she has gotten infected. Not a lot has happened.

Joely Richardson and Arnie share precisely no chemistry whatsoever. Richardson is one of the few actresses I actually find to be talented and she has great flexibility in terms of the roles she is capable of playing, but there is just nothing there with Arnie. The two seem like strangers that have been put together, and given that they’re supposed to be man and wife, that’s never a good thing.

Arnie isn’t given many lines and that works quite well for the most part. Whilst I don’t think he’s  a great actor, Arnie is great at looking ponderously into the middle distance and full of regret. The character spends most of his time in the movie doing pretty much exactly that. I think the film found the best way to use Arnie in his later years (the nice way of putting it) and there are long spells where he is not in the film at all.

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Abigail Breslin is her predictable self. Breslin, much like Dakota Fanning, has almost struck me as one of those child stars that has grown up believing all of the hype around them, that despite their talent being very limited. She is a bit bland as Maggie and I find it hard to really care about or feel sorry for a character that rarely shows and semblance of giving a shit about her situation. She gets infected in the very first scene (actual infection isn’t seen) and after that, for the most part, it doesn’t seem to impact her life at all, and I think this is down to Breslin’s uninspiring and unemotional portrayal.

It would seriously help Breslin if she showed emotion every now and then. Just before the hour mark one of her friends is telling her a sad story about a family member being killed and all Breslin can manage is a “do I give a fuck?” look on her face.

So onto the positives and the first is something that always bugs me in zombie style/post-apocalyptic films, everyone is always perfectly clean. For example, in the Resident Evil franchise, the character of Alice always finds time in between fighting the zombie hoards to change her hair style and colour on a regular basis. In all five of the films released to date, her hair is different in a major way to the previous entry.

Maggie doesn’t follow that trend though as everyone looks dirty and sweaty. Wade looks like he hasn’t had a shower in a long time and it reflects that in a post-apocalyptic world, there are far more important things that making yourself look presentable.

There were several parts of the plot and one of the highlights for me was in the middle of the film when Maggie goes for a check up. The doctor gives her the typical bedside manner and gives her her chances, before admitting to Wade that he has lied and that she doesn’t have much time left at all. It makes you wonder to what extent the medical professional lying has actually impacted the infection spreading.

The colour palette that is used is dull and somewhat lifeless, and this combined with the atmosphere of the film puts you into a truly bleak world and gives you a distinctive lack of hope for the characters. There are no bright colours, not even with the clothes, and it feels like a world that is dying. Infact, the only real colour use is yellow, as everything else feels almost grey.

Acoustically the film is perfect and the subtle soundtrack is very effectively. It makes you feel everything that you’re supposed to feel in that moment and this is unlike a lot of other films that I have watched in any genre. There are plenty of scenes, such as one where Wade is walking through a field near the beginning of the film and the score makes it seem impossible to hope for a brighter future, which brings you truly into the world of the characters. That is exactly what a score is supposed to do.

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Summary

Whilst Maggie struggles to really deserve more than a straight to DVD release, it’s not an awful effort in terms of direction and artistic merit. It certainly looks the part and the few sets that are used are used very well. However, the plot does not work and the film falls rather flat. Breslin portrays her character poorly, although the character isn’t exactly great to begin with and it felt almost like 90 minutes that I had wasted.

I think the best word to describe the film is disappointing. It’s very flat and never really feels like it’s getting going. It takes more than a good atmosphere and an appropriate look to make a film good, and unfortunately this has all of the style, but virtually no substance behind it.

I would recommend that when this does come out at the cinema, you avoid it as it’s one of the least exciting and engaging zombie style films in recent years.