A small group of military personnel and survivalists dwell in an underground bunker as they seek to find a cure in a world overrun by zombies.
What we’re promised is a new entry in the DOTD franchise, replete with reimagined characters, setups, stories, and (of course) zombies. What we get is a stilted film trading almost exclusively on its name and effects. I’m not trying to fault a movie like this for its plot. We all know the B-budget horror zone is not the place for writers’ guild awards. In fact, this movie aims for metaphor where most films of its genre aim for simplicity. I’m willing to compliment the filmmakers for conceiving a script with one thematic thread that comes to fruition.
The film hurtles through its story only slowing down to reach a conclusion inevitable for genre fans and disquieting for casual watchers. Sure we know we want some major zombie action and I appreciate them plowing through the setup, but this film leaves little room for air as you bounce from one plot motivation to its consequence to its conclusion. I found myself losing interest in side storylines and even the main story from time to time because it pounds through so much plot.
People enjoy elaborate and lengthy setups for these movies because the effects tended to pay off the moody plotting. Instead, we kind of get the reverse: lots of effects paying off character lip service. What great gore effects we get. Zombies bite into almost every part of the human body. Zombies throw up on each other. Blood spurts, sprays, and flies through the air in this movie – drawing my attention back to the screen just when I’ve started thinking about something else.
The entire movie hinges on the performance of Johnathon Schaech as Max the Smart Zombie. The setup of a zombie that can hunt, plot, and even talk should terrify us but only when Schaech’s lipless sneer fills the screen do we feel any kind of emotions. The rest of the cast performs to par (I never felt like anyone was a bad actor) but they have so very little to work with that it’s more Schaech’s movie than anyone else’s. Which is odd considering in this movie he’s a rapist-turned-zombie.
I can’t begin to guess what fans of the series or fans of middle budget horror movies will say. I can only say I did not particularly enjoy this film. Maybe watch it if you find it interesting or you randomly discover it as a cheap rental online. I will likely never rewatch this movie. So, take that for what it is. Not an endorsement, but not an unendorsement?
Available on Blu-ray & DVD February 13th from Lionsgate