Zombie Resurrection (2014)
Full disclosure here: I’m writing this on the cusp of having just lost my job. I worked in a customer service capacity, was really enjoying it, but I made one or two too many mistakes during my probationary period, so they decided to let me go. So, maybe the review you’re about to read might be more reflective of my disappointment and anxiety than the movie I saw.
Or maybe it is as bad as I describe it. I’m gonna trust my instincts. I’ve seen enough bad movies in my lifetime.
Especially zombie movies, normally my favourite horror sub-genre, going back to the first zombie movie I saw, CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, on late night television. Looking back at it now, I can’t avoid noting its many faults, while at the same time appreciating the power of the resurrection scenes. Some movies are like that, flawed but still worth the watching.
ZOMBIE RESURRECTION, brought to us by British writer/directors Jake Hawkins and Andy Phelps, is like that. Except for the part about being worth the watching. I’m sorry, guys, but as much as you enjoyed making your low-budget zombie movie, you clearly enjoyed making it more than I enjoyed watching it.
It opens in bilious Night Vision Green, as someone in a Jeep drives through the forest, before we cut to some POV shot from the barrel of an assault rifle, and I’m wondering if I’m accidentally watching some Army recruitment commercial, or maybe I’m playing some sort of computer game (is that what you kids call them these days?). The one holding the rifle goes in and kills some people, before being killed themselves when some woman they find tied up gets freed and she kills them. I think that’s what happens, anyway, it’s so dark and murky it’s like they filmed inside Courtney Love’s underpants.
Then we get an animated title sequence that, admittedly, looks pretty cool, even if the title of the movie is so generic it’s like an ape flipped through a book of movie titles and selected the words. The title sequence also informs us that it was soldiers returning home from some conflict that brought the disease back with them. Bet they’re sorry it wasn’t just herpes, huh?
Now we get to the movie proper, which informs us that it’s Infection Day 458, which means that we leave behind the Night Vision bullshit for some daytime bullshit(what the opening sequence has in connection with the subsequent scenes is unclear, but once you get into the movie proper, you’ll feel like you’ve just removed the gaudy wrapping on a loaf of mouldy bread).
We’re still in some woods, with our Dramatis Personnae being introduced: orange-suited prisoner Sykes (Eric Colvin), a well-spoken former doctor; bloodthirsty Scottish sergeant Mac (Jim Sweeney), who likes to punch into zombies’ guts to pull out their spinal cords; his technical superior officer, Major Gibson (Joe Rainbow); nobody guy whose name/nickname Gandhi (Simon Burbage) is the most interesting thing about him; golf club-swinging suburban father Beaumont (Danny Brown), protective of his dimwit daughter Becca (Rachel Nottingham) while still taking time to shag loud-mouthed chav Harden (Jade Colucci), and what she’s getting out of this arrangement I have no idea; and annoying, Bible-spouting West African stereotype Esther (Shamiso Mushambi), who’s carrying the most fake pregnant belly since I stuffed a pillow under my T-shirt to get out of Sixth Grade Gym.
Very ineptly we pick up on the fact that they’re all making their way towards a safe haven called Imperium, and that their prisoner is being taken to be executed, as he was apparently one of the ones responsible for creating the virus (meant to be a vaccination but which went wrong – obviously – and with a 6 month incubation period, which explains why no one noticed it until the soldiers had all returned home). Now, you may wonder a) Why they would drag Sykes halfway across the country just to be executed, and b) why they would execute him at all, as it sounds like he’s the only one left qualified who might help find a cure, regardless of his culpability with its creation. And if you have, well Mazel Tov, because you just gave it more thought than the writers.
We also learn that this is meant to be a comedy, and bloody hell if SHAUN OF THE DEAD doesn’t have a lot to answer for. I mean, I loved it, but it was so perfect it made so many others believe it was easy. And as actor Edmund Gwenn was purported to say for his final words, “Dying is easy; comedy is hard. Which rates better than David Carradine’s final words, “Don’t worry, I know how to tie a hangman’s knot.”
I’m not sure what’s worse, the jokes themselves (the script offers them like the screenwriters respect the right of other people to believe in humour but chooses not to believe in it themselves) or the performers, who flail about with all the grace of a drunk conducting his own vasectomy. I might also note the background music and special effects sounding off at opportune moments (like the squelching sound added during the scene when Beaumont withdraws from the chav’s honey pot, and it was like the filmmakers had been dared to offend every possible sense at once).
Honestly, this is so far from a horror-comedy that I can’t even begin to fully explain to the filmmakers why it doesn’t work. I’d have a better shot at explaining to a foetus that the dizziness and pain it’s experiencing is the result of Bill Cosby feeding its mother roofied Jello Pudding Pops before sexually assaulting her.
Anyway, Major Gibson gets his foot caught in a mantrap, and then he’s bitten by a zombie, though Sykes thinks he’s managed to amputate the foot in time to prevent infection (wait, I thought there was a 6 month incubation period? Oh, never mind). Although Gibson is a complete asshole, apparently he’s the only one in the group who knows the exact location of the safe haven (nice planning there), so they decide to rest and recuperate in a local abandoned school. It’s here that we’re offered a moment of pathos and sobriety as the group gaze upon a long wall filled with pictures and descriptions of missing folk. One single effective moment, even if it’s a rip-off of the scene from 28 DAYS LATER.
Once inside, they encounter a survivor, and more zombies – along with one who appears to have the power to “cure” other zombies with a touch, though he himself appears to remain as incoherent as Phil Spector. There are the usual escalating tensions, people going off by themselves, yadda yadda yadda.
At its core, ZOMBIE RESURRECTION had an interesting notion, but like my dog when she steals the remote control, has no idea what to do with it, and the plot unravels more quickly than Charlie Sheen’s sobriety. The acting, with the exception of Eric Colvin as Sykes, is mostly appalling (if horror movie acting was an event in the Special Olympics, most of these a-holes would be left at the starting line still picking their noses). The practical effects are serviceable, if scant, and there are CGI blood spurts, because someone obviously thought that the movie wasn’t crap enough.
Yeah, I’ve seen bad movies, but this one was so bad it went past entertaining, and now I’m feeling like I’m watching a homeless man eating a dog turd for a dollar.
ZOMBIE RESURRECTION is available in various formats in the UK and elsewhere, and if you spend money on it, you deserve to have your Uncle Arthur touch you in your swimsuit areas.
The trailer is below (and a big hand to the editors for polishing this turd and making it look almost presentable).
Director: Jake Hawkins and Andy Phelps (also co-writers)
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 2 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 4 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Deggsy. Dead but not down.