Virus

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

The Invasion

I love Nicole Kidman, though I think that most people do. Which was the main pull to watch this film. I enjoyed the other film adaptations The Body Snatchers that I’ve seen. Which is limited to the 1978, and 1993 versions. Though even with the addition of this version, my favorite is still the 1978 version. Because Donald Sutherland. The Invasion is close though, through the power of Nicole Kidman’s performance and the films many great moments.

The Invasion opens with a shuttle crashing and falling to earth during reentry. The debris from the crash is infested with an alien virus that can survive the freezing environment of space and the burning reentry. The virus infects people and taking them over when they enter REM sleep. One of the first people infected is the CDC director Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam). Tucker’s ex-wife Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) is a practicing psychiatrist, who has patient that thinks her husband is no longer her husband. Having a complete change of temperament. Slowly Carol starts noticing strange behavior in those around her. Including Tucker’s sudden interest in being a father to his son Oliver (Jackson Bond) and asking for visitation. As her fears mount and after the discovery of a strange skin is discovered at a party. Carol turns to her boyfriend Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig). He in turn goes to his friend Dr. Stephen Galeano (Jeffrey Wright), and they learn of the spread of virus. Which is being spread by Tucker through a flu vaccine. After realizing that Tucker is infected she goes to rescue her son, who she has also learned is immune due to being sick as a baby with a specific strain of the chicken pox. But as Carol searches for her son, things get more complicated after she becomes infected by Tucker. Forced to stay awake and find her son, before the infected learn of his immunity.

I liked the build up. The slow start of the familiar that builds upon itself as the film progresses. Layering upon itself. As it like its predecessors address the concept of a world with out violence is a world with out humanity and anyone is capable of anything in the right situation plays out beautifully.

My favorite parts were the quieter moments after the Carol has realized of the invasion. When other non infected warn her on the subway and later when she escapes. To avoid emotion as they dont have any. Something that’s used against us by them. The work great and add a great deal to the tension of the film.

It was the cast that really stood out to me. With exception of Daniel Craig, who felt dry and unemotional. Nicole Kidman of course did an outstanding job. But like he’s done before my favorite performance was from Jeffery Wright. Who, while only a smaller supporting role uses his screen time the most effectively.

Final thoughts, Overall I really enjoyed this version and while not my favorite I can still admit that it’s well done.  The acting is solid though not as well done in the 1978 version and the story is solid. I like the undercurrents of the film, though the get very heavy handed with them. But if your a fan of invasion films or the other versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers I would recommend giving this film a watch. 7/10

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

Train to Busan

It was super refreshing as a fan of zombies movies to see this film. It’s a great example of a great zombie film, as it makes the characters feel relatable. It was well written, well acted and well shot. So if you haven’t seen this film because that it’s subtitled. Then you are doing yourself a disservice. I’ve loved the horror films that I’ve seen come out of South Korea for all the same reasons. Reasons I’ll go more into depth about shortly.

Train to Busan opens with Seok-woo (Yoo Gong) a workaholic, who’s recently separated for his wife and has custody of their young daughter Soo-an (Soo-an Kim). Seok-woo wants to be a good father, but due to his job is unable to find the time to relate with his daughter. For her birthday Soo-an wants to go to Busan to see her mother. Seok-woo agrees to take her by train the next day. After boarding the train a zombie outbreak sweeps the nation. With an infected woman getting on board, turning and attacking. Further spreading the infection of the high speed train. Eventually the passengers who have manged to flee to the front of train notice that the infected are stupied and wont try to attack if they don’t see you.  The other survivors include, husband and wife Sang-hwa (Dong-seok Ma) and Seong-kyeong (Yu-mi Jung), sisters In-gil (Soo-jung Ye) and Jong-gil (Myung-sin Park), Yon-suk (Kim Eui-sung) a rich CEO, teenagers Yong-guk (Choi Woo-shik) and Jin-hee (Ahn So-hee). The train tries to stop at the next station only to see that it is overrun. It continues on until it reaches a city that its told is safe. Seok-woo learns the city is quarinteened and makes plans through his contacts at work to be evacuated there with his daughter. But that station too is overrun and the survivors barely make it back, while many of the other do not. But in the race to reach the train Seok-woo, Sang-hwa, Yong-guk are separated from the others and must fight the their way to them through infected filled train cars as the train races for the last open city… Busan.

So the things I loved. First was the dread location, putting this film on a train was great. The claustrophobic atmosphere was great and it made for some very intense action scenes. I also liked the sense of finality that the train brought, as it has a destination, at the very least the tracks have to end somewhere. Keeping the thought of hope and rescue alive. Only to squash it.

The acting was also pretty fantastic. I’m not as knowledgeable in South Korean films to identify the actors or reference their past work against this one. But they all do a great job, making for a very strong ensemble. My person favorite was Dong-seok as MaSang-hwa.

I also loved the effects, as the infected are just great. The gore while minimal is visceral keeping the threat and terror more real and closer to home. There’s plenty of blood and people being attacked, but the gore is never the show case and often times feels a little played down for the sake of tone.

Final thoughts, I loved this movie. Easily one of if not thee best zombie film I’ve seen in a while. Maybe since The Battery. It’s just that good. Train to Busan is worth all of the praise that it receives and I feel is a must watch for the zombie fans out there. As its great zombie film with more than a few touching moments. 10/10

Dreamcatcher

dreamcatcherI remember the first time I watched this film, I didn’t really enjoy it all that much. I was hung up on some pretty shallow problems with the film. After watching it again, in a different point in my life I found Dreamcatcher far more enjoyable. But still, it’s not even close to King’s best adaptations. That would of course be The Green Mile. Though what I found delightful were the performances of the film’s main protagonists played by Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, and Timothy Olyphant. All actors that I’ve come to love in the years since I last saw this film.

Dreamcatchers opens with a group of childhood friends Henry (Thomas Jane), Beaver (Jason Lee), Jonesy (Damian Lewis), and Pete (Timothy Olyphant) planning a trip to go see Duddits (Donnie Wahlberg), another childhood friend. This time also establishes that all four of the friends share special abilities ranging from finding things that are lost, telepathy and precognition. Though other than telepathy not all the abilities are shared among all of them. While leaving work after finalizing plans to visit Duddits, Jonesy walks into the road seemingly in a daze. Which results in him being hit and badly injured. Though he manages to make a near full recovery to attend the group’s annual trip to a cabin in the woods six months later. Though due to the damage to his hip and legs, he walks with a limp and gets fatigued quickly. We learn the that four boys meet Duddits, who is seemingly mentally handicapped while investigating an old building in search of a dirty picture. Duddits was being tormented by three older boys, who are trying to force Duddits to eat a dog turd after they stripped him down. The four boys stand up for him, causing the bullies to back down and forging a lasting friendship with Duddits. It’s also revealed that it was Duddits who had given the boys their mental powers, while searching for a lost girl. In present day Jonesy comes across a lost hunter in the woods Rick McCarthy (Eris Keenleyside), while hunting in the woods with Beaver. He takes Rick back to the cabin and tries to help him. Shortly after settling Rick down and noticing his swollen chest, Beaver returns. Beaver notes the red rash on the mans face, who casually dismisses claiming that it’s an allergic reaction to something. After a few moments Beaver and Jonesy help the man to bed, and while doing so Jonesy notices the swelling has moved from his chest to his stomach. The two then witnesses the animals of the forest fleeing something, many covered with a strange red rash. Much like the one on Rick’s face. A military helicopter flies over head telling them that the area is under quarantine. Meanwhile, Henry and Pete are making a supply run back in town. While making the return trips the two crests a snow-covered hill and nearly strike a woman sitting in the road half-frozen. The two manage to avoid hitting her, but wreck their car and Pete’s leg gets injured. After starting a fire to warm the woman and Pete, Henry leaves on foot back to the cabin to get help. At the cabin, when Beaver and Jonesy reenter they find a bloody trail leading from the bed where Rick was sleeping to the bathroom. After refusing to open the door for them to check on him, Beaver and Jonesy break it down. Inside they find a horror show, as the bathroom is covered in the red rash, growing along the walls floor and completely covering Rick’s face. They hear a “Clinker” drop into the toilet from an unresponsive Rick and when Beaver tries to rouse him, he falls over into the tub dead. Inside the toilet is a large slug like creature, Beaver quickly traps the creature by closing and siting the lid. After arguing about it, Jonesy goes to the shed to find duct tape to keep the lid closed. While gone Beaver is unable to keep the lid closed and is killed after fighting the creature. Jonesy returns to the bathroom and finds Beaver dead, but manages to close the door before the creature and kill him too. Though that does nothing to protect him from the large alien that possesses him. These events haven’t gone unnoticed by the government as Col. Abraham Curtis (Morgan Freeman) is the man who established the quarantine to keep the infection along with aliens that cause it contained. He’s aided by his protege Owen (Tom Sizemore), who’s set to take over his command. Though he’s deeply conflicted over Curtis heavy-handed measures, such as killing all infected, including children. Having gone slightly mad after spending a lifetime fighting the aliens. The alien, Mr. Grey possessing Jonesy uses his body to escape the quarantine. Pitting him against the remaining friends with the fate of the world in balance.

There’s a lot I didn’t cover in the synopsis, as this isn’t a short film clocking in at over two hours. The later part is much faster paced than the first sections as there’s quite a lot that needs to be established. Though you don’t really feel Dreamcatchers length as it never dawdles. Moving quickly to cover as much ground as efficiently possible.

The true strength of the film lies with the core group of friends as the actors who portray them do a great job. Their interaction is believable that these men are life long friends. Bound together not just by shared history, but also by the abilities gifted to them.

My issues with this film are small. My first one with actually with Morgan Freeman’s character as he feels out-of-place. Taking up time for crazy sake. The character does little but try to add extra tension, but in the long run adds little to the actual plot of the film. Much like Owen. In fact, most of the military scenes feel superfluous.

The second is Duddits, who all the men talk about in high regard constantly. With never a bad word shared about him. But all men admit to falling out of contact with him. Even becoming surprised when they learn that he now has late stage leukemia when he’s searched out to help with Mr. Grey. So my issue is how come these men, who owe so much Duddits have fallen so far out of touch that he doesn’t even come to the annual trip? One that partly held in his honor?

Final thoughts, other than a few glaring plot holes this is an OK movie. Though nothing special, well beyond the on-screen friendship. The effects are kind of bad as the CGI hasn’t aged the best. But, Dreamcatcher isn’t a film you should be watching for the effects. It’s the one you watch for the story and overall Dreamcatcher has a pretty good one. 7/10

Day of the Dead (2008)

day_of_the_dead_ver2After hearing about how awful this film was from friends and reading the reviews I wasn’t optimistic entering this film. Sadly this film lived up to my abysmal exceptions, even though it sports a number of actors that I really do enjoy. Ving Rhames makes a return to the series, though this time he’s playing Captain Rhodes. He’s joined by Mena Suvari, and AnnaLynne McCord, who blew me away with her performance in Excision. Though even with all these excellent performers, Day of the Dead manages to be bland and generic. A poor job that doesn’t live up to the original in a single aspect.

Day of the Dead opens with a group of kids, Trevor Bowman (Michael Welch), his girlfriend Nina (AnnaLynne McCord), his friend Kyle (Hugh Skinner) along with his girlfriend in a run down house in the woods. While exploring Trevor comes across a hidden door, but Nina wants to go back to Trevor’s place, so they decide to go. This breaks up Kyle’s and his girls make out session. To further kill the mood Trevor develops a nose bleed and bleeds on her. He keeps pushing the her  to go back to his place till she just chooses to walk home. On the way she’s attacked and killed. At a nearby road block, Captain Rhodes (Ving Rhames) and Corporal Sarah Bowman turn back an angry father with a sick son as their town is currently under quarantine. They keep that information secret under the guise of training exercises. Sarah Bowman heads into town with Private Bud Crain (Stark Sands) to check on her mother. When she arrives to her mothers she breaks up Trevor’s make-out session, chastises him and checks on their mother (Linda Marlowe). Who turns out to be really sick, causing Sarah to decide to get her to the hospital. But first she goes to check on Kyle after hearing that he has symptoms that matches her mom’s. When she arrives at Kyle’s she finds a ton of blood along with Kyle’s parents bodies, which look mauled and Kyle not to be found. She returns to her moms house gets her mom along with Trevor and Nina, then heads to the hospital. Which is flooded with the sick. Sarah is joined by Captain Rhodes and Private Salazar (Nick Cannon). Captain Rhodes has Sarah talk to Dr. Logan (Matt Rippy) about what she saw in Kyle’s house. While she does she has Bud watch her mother as she waits to see a doctor, but notices something’s wrong when everyone freezes. He rushes to warn Sarah, just in time for them to witness the hospital turn into a slaughter-house as the sick turn into zombies. Forcing them to try to escape the hospital as the dead spread out over the town slaughtering everyone…

The only thing, well things I liked were Ving Rhames and Mina Suvari, As both do an amazing job with the little they were given to work with. Ving Rhames especially, as his Rhodes comes off far more like-able than Joseph Pilato’s rendition. Though here the character fills a very different role. Ok, I also liked Mina Suvari and Stark Sands chemistry on screen.

But that’s about the extent of it. The zombies in this film are uninteresting and bland. Something I didn’t know zombies could be. I think it’s because they come off more as mutated people than they do the undead. My biggest peeves steam from Zombie Rhodes eating his own eye and the Zombies eating another Zombie. Which is a first for me, as one of the generic zombie rules is that zombies don’t eat their own. They eat us.

The effects are done in a clunky CGI, which doesn’t do this film any favors. This Day of the Dead could have taken some pointers from the 1985 version in regards to effects. Since out of the two, with over twenty years of technological advancement this version looks by far the worst.

Final thoughts, it’s awful and lives up to its poor reputation. I can understand why this film was straight to video and I can’t honestly suggest to anyone. As a fan of the zombie genre, this one nearly put me to sleep. Which is something a zombie film shouldn’t do. Because even with all the action going on on-screen, Day of the Dead still managed to be boring. 3/10

Cabin Fever (2016)

cabin-fever-2-1This is a film that didn’t need to be made as it brought nothing new to the table. First off rebooting a franchise that’s only fourteen years old seems more that little ridiculous. Coupling that with the fact that this remake uses the same script, just edited down slightly and tweaked to add some current pop culture references, I don’t get why this film was even green lit in the first place. One word can sum up all of this film, unneeded. As that’s what this is film is, completely unneeded. Having somehow kept all the awful aspects of the original and none of the charm.

As this remake is an exact copy of the original, names and all. So I’m not sure how to cover this. Basically look at my review for the first cabin fever. Which goes kids go to a secluded cabin for spring break, meet sick Hermit, everyone gets sick and substitute the actors names, Paul (Samuel Davis), Karen (Gage Golightly), Jeff (Matthew Daddario), Marcy (Nadine Crocker), Bert (Dustin Ingram), Henry (Randy Schulman), and Deputy Wilson (Louise Linton).

The fact that this is an exact rehashing made this film very hard to get through for me. This might be because the original was still so fresh in my memory, but I think that other than the production value. Nothing was handled any better. The characters are still unlikable and stupid. Just this time around these no camp humor to fall back on, making the film a bleaker viewing experience.

The removal of the old man at the general store seemed odd given that as far as I can tell, he’s regarded as the best character by just about everyone that’s seen in that I’ve talked to. Beyond his complete removal the other changes are completely cosmetic. The couple that chases of one of the kids when they are looking for help because of peeping have had the genders flipped and more notably as far as gender reversal goes is Deputy Wilson is now played by a woman.

While on the topic of Deputy Wilson, while Louise Linton isn’t as memorable as Giuseppe Andrews. She’s still the best performance in this film. Not that she had any real competition. Her Wilson comes off as less inept and far more predatory than Giuseppe’s did and might be the second best thing about this remake.

The best being the production in the gore effects. which, while never chilling or unsettling are remarkably well done. Dr. Mambo in particular took on a much more gruesome appearance and actually looks sick this time around. The bathtub scene also gets redone though here it feels like they tried to push the bounds of the last film and it comes of feeling cheap.

Final thoughts, beyond passable. I can’t think of a single thing, other than Louise Linton and the effects, that would cause me to recommend this film. At least never over the original in any case. Where the first film had a lot of heart and some decent vision, all of that feels lost here and what’s left is a pretty hollow shell of a film that wasn’t all the great to begin with. 3/10