Dystopian

Warm Bodies

How have I not talked about this movie yet? I love this movie. Love it. I’m a fan of romantic horror films, a fact that is well documented. Warm Bodies is among my top five favorites. Hell, it’s in my top 25 movies off all time. Though objectively it’s not the best. But I’m not here to be objective. I’m here to give my honest opinion. Warm Bodies is far and away more Romance and Comedy than Horror. Horror is the back drop, occasionally its brought up and that really works for here. I love the pairing of Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. But I’ll get to praising them in a moment.

Warm Bodies opens with R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie who spends his days suffering around an airport. He spends his days trying to remember what it used to be like before he became a zombie.  His only kind of friend is M (Rob Corddry), who he stands near and they almost start conversations. The only time they speak is when to signify hunger and the need to hunt. Which they do, heading into the city. Leader of potentially last human settlement Grigio (John Malkovich), sends out a group of young survivors to scavenge in the city for supplies that are needed by the settlement, like medicine. Among them are Grigio’s daughter Julie (), her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco), and her best friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton). R’s and Julies groups encounter on another and a fight ensues. During which R falls in love with Julie at first sight. He then kills Perry and eats his brains. Which allows him to live Perry’s memories. Including the ones of him and Julie falling in love. R manages to save Julie from the zombies as the her group is killed except for Nora. R takes Julie back to the airport where he keeps her in the plane he lives in. Filled with stuff that he likes. The two get to know one another and start to fall in love over the days that R keeps Julie there. But she has no desire to stay and after being found by the zombies, including the more dangerous Bonies. But with the aid of M, Julie and R manage to escape. After helping Julie and R escape the zombies start to come back alive. Something that upsets the Bonies who chase them out. Julie and R take refuge in an old house and spend the night. During which he reveals that hes the one who killed Perry. R then falls asleep, some that the dead don’t do and wakes up to Julie gone. R starts to head back when he runs in M, who’s leading a band of like-hearted zombies to find R. He tells him of the Bonies and how they are hunting for him, and Julie. R, M, and the other zombies head to find Julie to warn her of the Bonies coming attack.

The romantic elements work really well for me and I love the chemistry between the leads. Being based on a novel that is blatantly retelling Romeo and Juliet, the chemistry is important. Both deliver solid performances and come of as light in what is a very down atmosphere. The rest does a great job, with Rob Corddry being hilarious, and heart warming at times.

The zombie effects are pretty good, but the Bonies don’t look as good. While by no means do they look bad. I just would have preferred if they had been approached via practical effects instead of CGI. Which is my only gripe about this film.

The sound track also needs to be brought up. Because it’s outstanding. The film makes great use of some very recognizable songs such as Shelter from the Storm by Bob Dylan, Patience by Guns and Roses and Missing You by John Waite to name a few.

Final thoughts, I do love this movie. Its cute, fun and light with a healthy dose of zombie violence. It takes the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet and twists it into some new. Which is harder to pull of then it might sound. 9/10

April Apocalypse

I don’t know what it is about zombie romance films that I love so much. The idea of love being able to survive even in a world bleak as one as a zombie apocalypse seems like a good contender. But my gut tells me that isn’t the right answer, so I’m left enjoying a strange niche of the horror genre. Strangely I’m not the only one that loves these movies, because there’s more than a few of them. April Apocalypse would be on the better end of the spectrum. But by no means my favorite, that would probably belong to Warm Bodies. While not the best at what it does April Apocalypse is certainly worth watching. As its full of fun acting and memorable moments.

April Apocalypse follows Artie (Reece Thompson), a love struck awkward teenager, who’s been in love with his next door neighbor April (Rebekah Brandes) since they were three. He confesses his love one night and April makes it clear she feels the same. The bad thing is her family is moving… tomorrow. They promise to stay in touch and after initially trying, the two drift apart. Artie falls into a depression and runs an evening radio show as an outlet for his depression, often pinning away for April. His depression worsens to the point where his family intervene and send him to psychologist, Dr. Lyle (George Lopez). Who prescribes him with a new form of Prozac to treat his depression. One that has none of old side effects, but has the new side effects of ambition, euphoria and an increase immune system. After starting he starts taking the new medication he, with help of his grandpa Pops (William Morgan Sheppard) to go to April. So he packs his car and leaves, to do just that. On the way he wrecks his car due to dodging a zombie in the road. When he comes to, the world is in the grip of a zombie apocalypse. He quickly returns home to check on his family. While in his home he set upon by a number of zombies, which Artie is able to kill. But not without getting bite. He quickly disinfects the wound with rubbing alcohol. Artie only manages to find Pops, who is dead. Leaving him wondering about the his parents and brother. But April is first priority, so Artie arms up and heads across the country to find her. Encounter other survivors along the way.

I found the acting to be great. I loved Reece Thompson. Though it did take me a good amount of time to warm up to him. But the best goes to Brent Tarnol as Stevenson and Todd Stashwick as the Priest. Though these just shine the brightest, because I cant think of single performance that I didn’t like.

Not that I liked all the characters. April and Regan played by Stephanie Hunt both bothered me. As both characters are never really expired. Regan happens into Artie and the two never seem to do much. She’s just the hot girl. Even when Artie meets up with Stevenson. That’s her characters whole deal. Which is sad as Stephanie Hunt did a good job with the role she was given. But I see Regan as a real missed opportunity as a character. The same goes for April, we get far more character with her. But she’s still and object in the film. Something for Artie to strive after and obtain. Not a fleshed out person with her own goals and ideas. Rebekah Brandes does a great job, making a character that is fairly shallowly written like-able.

The zombies are fairly stand fair. Nothing to noteworthy as April Apocalypse sticks to the standard fast zombie mythos. Get bitten or scratched you turn. After you turn you go cannibalistic and violent towards the uninfected. While the transformation window being fairly slim. It’s nice to see a zombie film that keeps the monster familiar while still delivering a new story.

Final thoughts, April Apocalypse certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel here. But it doesn’t need to. The standard zombie tropes and moments are here. But they’re done tongue in cheek. This is where the films comedy shines, as it will both acknowledge the trope and play off it at the same time. April Apocalypse is pretty good zombie film, with more than a dash of romance that I would recommend. 8/10

OMBC – The Oath

The Oath by Frank Peretti came recommended by a coworker. So, upon his advice I picked up a copy with some rather high expectations. Expectations that were for the most part delivered on. I don’t have much negative to say about The Oath. As it’s a layered, engrossing novel that has a large cast of vivid characters. The Oath is considered to be one Frank Peretti’s best works, which makes me wonder about his other works and for being Christian Fiction, The Oath doesn’t feel overly preachy. Something I like.

Those are my thoughts on The Oath. Next Month I’ll be continuing with Odd Thomas series with Odd Apoccolypse by Dean Koontz.  See you next month and until then keep reading.

Re-Kill

I can honestly say I did not enjoy this movie. I like the idea behind it, but the execution was way off. The idea of reality tv in a zombie apocalypse about those that are hunting down and eliminating what’s left of the zombie threat. Though I will admit that this film isn’t completely without merit. While it was unable to capitalize on it, Re-Kill does actually have a really good concept and some of the characters are interesting. But just some of them.

Re-Kill is reality tv show that follows Division 6, a group of soldiers tasked with handling the zombie threat. The group consists of Nyguyen (Yo Santhaveesuk), Omar Hernandez (Jesse Garcia), Winston (Bruce Payne), “Grizzly” Adams (Dimiter Doichinov), Trent Parker (Scott Adkins), Tom (Layke Anderson), and Rose Mathews (Daniella Alonso), who are all led by Sarge (Roger Cross). To film and narrate the show drops in Jimmy (Aaron Jay Rome) and Bobby (Owen Davis). The show follows their exploits, which eventually leads them into a walled-off section of New York known as The Zone an a highly dangerous mission. The group responded negativity to the orders as almost no one comes back from The Zone…

My main issue with Re-Kill is that it has commercials for this zombie apocalypse during “the show”. I get that it should make it feel more immersive. But it doesn’t its jarring and ruins the films pacing and delivery. It also steals away valuable time that should be used on developing the characters. Something this film desperately needed. As a lot of the characters feel like cardboard cut outs. From the religious solider to the scared camera guys, everyone felt incredibly shallow. Which sucks because the interview parts were among the best because you get learn about the characters and this hell world they live in.

The other issues I have aren’t as major. The lack of a strong dread location being one of them. The Zone feels incredibly generic and offers nothing in the memorability. I enjoy zombies films that have solid dread locations, farm houses, shopping malls, Bill Murray’s house, ect. But here the best they got is a grey, dark, industrial complex.

The pacing is also awful. But this is related again to the commercials. As any time that Re-Kill starts to build its tension it cuts to a commercials. Which brings the movie to sudden stop, while providing little to the plot.

Final thoughts, it just wasn’t that good. Re-Kill is a bunch of standard zombie tropes and ideas thrown together with a pretty neat concept. Because like I said I do like the concept. But that alone is about the extent of what I do like. The characters are shallow, the location is boring and the zombies are never really explored beyond zombies. Not a film that I plan on watching again. 3/10

Dance of the Dead

I went into Dance of the Dead expecting a better film. Detention of the Dead was good enough to get me looking for similar films. Which brought me to Dance of the Dead and I don’t like near as much. Mostly because I feel I was cheated on the Dance part of this film, since the majority of the film doesn’t take place at the dance. I feel bad for not liking this film, it has everything going for it. It’s a cheesy zombie flick, set at a prom, and its low budget with a focus on practical effects. I should be loving this film, but I’m not.

Dance of the Dead opens in a graveyard next to nuclear power plant. The grave keeper covers up the fact the dead are rising by removing the parts that break the surface. At the towns high school everyone is preparing for the upcoming prom. Steven (Chandler Darby) a member of the Sci-Fi club, tries to ask out cheerleader Gwen (Carissa Capobianco) after learning her date is sick. But chickens out when she shows interest in Nash Rambler (Blair Redford), the lead singer in a punk band. Meanwhile, Lindsey (Greyson Chadwick) breaks up with her long time boyfriend Jimmy Dunn (Jared Kusnitz) over his inability to take anything seriously and decides to go to the dance with Rod (Mark Lynch) instead. The night of the prom the Sci-Fi club led by Jules (Mark Lynch) goes and investigates the graveyard. At the same graveyard Rod and Lindsey park before the dance and start getting hot and heavy. When the dead rise in force, attacking the teens, killing Rod. Though Lindsey and the others manage to escape in Rod’s car. Jimmy on his way to the dance is forced to deliver a pizza for his job. When he arrives the family that ordered the pizza are now zombies and attack him. Jimmy manages to escape. He comes across an overturn truck, the only survivor is Kyle Grubbin a bully and Jimmy’s enemy. Kyle gets his gun and starts shooting zombies and nearly shoots Gwen when she’s jogging by. The three flee the zombie horde. Lindsey calls Jimmy after she and the Sci-Fi club take refuge in a house. Jimmy, Kyle and Gwen make their way to them via the sewers, which the discover is heavily polluted from the nuclear power plant. The group now formed decided to make a mad dash to try and save everyone at the prom before they become zombies.

I should love this movie, but it’s just not there for me. The acting is good enough that its not enjoyably awful, so a lot of them come off as dry or stilled.  None of the actors seem to be on the same page. Most of the performances you get the standard b zombie flick, but some of the characters are so over the top you cant tell if this film knows how to be funny. I had a real problem with the character of Coach Keel played by Mark Oliver, who is way to over the top compared to the rest of the cast.

This films tone is just as wildly inconstant, that I can only compare to the later Ernest films. One moment you go from zombie horror film to the humor with no real delineation. Just zombies, bad joke, oh more zombies, bad joke, zombies again over and over.

Though the film isn’t without it merits. It really shows what you can do with a small budget. Even if I don’t like the over out come and I have to respect it for that. The effects are gory and well done with the zombies looking the range of laughable to pretty alright. The transformations were handled better than I expected.  The music is often spot on for the moment and complements the scenes well.

Final thoughts, I you really like zombie films check it out. If on the other hand you’re only passingly a fan or not a fan of them at all, I’d say skip  it. There’s better teen zombie horror films out there. I really wish I could recommend this film but I just can’t. 4/10

Stake Land

stake_land_xlgI was not expecting to like this film this much. I have a begrudging relationship with vampire films. I’m extremely hit or miss with them and it feels like they’re more often misses. Stake Land manages to be a hit. Stake Land is basically a zombie film, where the zombies have been replaced with feral vampires. Though that isn’t the only similarity with zombie films, which works just fine for me.

Stake Land opens after a global pandemic of vampirism has spread across the world killing or changing the majority of the population. With humans only surviving on the road or in small isolated communities. During a storm Martin’s (Connor Paolo) family is attacked by a lone vampire, resulting in the death of both his parents and their baby. Martin survives by being saved by a Mister (Nick Damici) a lone hunter. Mister takes Martin under his wing, training how to hunt and kill vampires along with survive in the new world. While traveling they rescue Sister (Kelly McGillis) a Nun, from a pair of rapists that are part of religious cult that defies Vampires. Killing one and leaving the other for dead, staked in the back. They are captured shortly after by the cult, led by Jebedia Loven (Michael Cerveris). Who happens to be that father of one of the men Mister killed saving Sister (The one he staked in the back) and sets to have his revenge on them. He leaves Mister in the middle of vamp land, while keeping Martin as slave and Sister for sex. Martin escapes with the consent of Sister and manages to reconnect with Mister, who has managed to survive. They continue to travel north to New Eden, AKA Canada, when the meet up with Belle (Danielle Harris). A pregnant woman trying to reach New Eden before her child is born. They then rescue Willie (Sean Nelson) from a portable toilet, having been left as Vamp bait by the cult. The four continue north, bonding and fighting the occasional vampire and dogging the Cult that’s out looking for Mister. Mister, Martin and the others ambush a cult roadblock, attacking and subduing Jebedia. They leave him tied to a tree, bait for the vampires he so reveres. At the next town they find Sister, who manged to escape the cult, just before the cult rains down vampires onto the town from a helicopter. The group now whole, continues their trip to New Eden, but after their truck breaks down it becomes apparent they are being stalked by a new breed of vampire… one that can think.

What I love is the zombie connection in this film. Mindless undead? Check. Bleak future living in the ruins of the old world? Check. A group of survivors trying to make their way bound together by shared comradery? Oh yes. Mainly what I love is the how character focused the film is. As while none of them are explored deeply, their relationships to one another is where this film shines.

The effects are super solid. The vampires are great, looking unsettling and have their own rules under which they function. Even with built-in exceptions as vampire mutations are a thing. Though beyond fangs it doesn’t take much to sell a vampire to me. Also they behave how you would expect, stakes to heart kill them and so does sunlight. While the making them mindless adds an interesting twist that sets them apart enough to be new, while maintaining the comfort of the old.

Final thoughts, I really loved this film. It’s a bit of a slow burn at the start, but once the ball is rolling the ride really starts. The characters, at least the main ones are very like-able. All the actors do an outstanding job, playing into the world and making it feel believable. I would recommend this film. It comes with a smidgen of gore and plenty of story. 9/10

Diary of the Dead

diary_of_the_deadOf all the Dead films, Diary of the Dead is by far one I enjoy the least. Not a sequel, but occurring at the same time as the original film, as you can hear some of the broadcasts over the radio. It feels disjointed with the other films as it feels like more a reboot than sharing any form of canonical order with the other films in the series. Another big issue I have is the found footage/documentary approach that the film takes. As it claims to be for us, to help us survive. The worlds ended and the internet would have been one of the first things to collapse. How are we seeing this and by the point that we would have seen it, chances are we already know all of this anyway. Rendering the very concept of film pointless.

The film opens with a newscast about a man killing his teen son and wife before taking his own life. While the bodies are being wheeled out, they reanimate attacking and killing the news corespondent before being killed by police. A voice over by Debra Moynihan (Michelle Morgan) explains that footage was uploaded by the camera so the truth would be known. Elsewhere, while making a low budget B movie for his senior project in the woods, Jason Creed (Joshua Close) along with his friends, Mary Dexter (Tatiana Maslany), Tracy Thurman (Amy Lalonde), Gordo Thorsen (Chris Violette), Eliot Stone (Joe Dinicol), Francine Shane (Megan Park), Ridley Wilmott (Philip Riccio), Tony Ravello (Shawn Roberts),  and their faculty adviser Andrew Maxwell (Scott Wentworth) get the news of mass hysteria and murders. At this point Ridley and Francine decided to leave for Ridley’s place as it has a sealed panic room where they can ride this out and extends the innovation to everyone there. Which none of them take him up on, Jason afraid for his girlfriend Debra goes to the dorms to find her. Where he finds her safe and unharmed, though she understandably concerned about her family whom she has been unable to reach. So they decided to go check up on them, taking along everyone else… because the film needs characters? While en-route Mary runs over a group of zombies, though not believing the dead have returned to life stops the motor-home and attempts to kill herself by shooting herself in the head. Surviving the gunshot, the group rushes her to the hospital, which they find deserted. Where she dies and reanimates after it becomes apparent that the dead are indeed coming back to life. While leaving Gordo is bitten and dies by the following morning from it. The group stops at a rural farmhouse to repair their Motor-home in the barn of a deaf Amish man, Samuel (R.D. Reid). Who dies when zombies overrun his farm, helping the others escape. The next come across a group of human survivors who have gathered all the important supplies in the area lead by a member of the national guard. He helps them, giving them gas and supplies for them to reach Debra’s parents home. When they arrive they are attacked by her now zombie family and after killing them leave for Ridley’s. On the way, they are stopped by Sarge (Alan Van Sparng) and his fellow national guardsmen, who rob them of all their supplies…

First of all the zombie effects takes a serious step down from Land of the Dead. With a fair amount of blatant CGI, mostly when it comes to bullet wounds. The special effects long for their hay days of Dawn and Day of the Dead.

The characters are simply awful and not enjoyable to watch. They feel paper thin, such as Tracy who’s only defining trait is she’s from Texas. Though this level of one dimensional-ism applies to the entire victim pool. With only Andrew Maxwell and that’s a very shaky statement.

My main issue is in the other Dead films, the core aspect of what the movie is about it subtle. Here the message is not only blatant, but straight up repeated over and over. It doesn’t happen if it didn’t happen on camera, along with the constant need to point out Jason is disconnected by viewing the events through a camera. Going so far as to watch his friends nearly die because he refuses to set down the camera long enough to help.

Final thoughts, Diary of the Dead is mostly a hot mess. Nothing the film tries to do congeals all the well and what few good parts it has are quickly passed over. Samuel being one of these aspects, how the Amish survive or handle the zombie Apocalypse is an amazing thing to cover. But the character is written off as quick as he’s written in. This films only saving grace is that it isn’t the final in the series. 4/10