Reece Thompson

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

Final Girl

final-girl.36562With the title Final Girl I was expecting a twist on the Slasher genre. As the Final Girl is a term for the Slasher genre to refer to the heroine who survives and defeats the killer. Often with wit and determination rather than brute force. Which it absolutely isn’t, which while initially disappointing Final Girl turned out to be worth every minute of its 84 minute run time. What it turns out to be was a well executed dark thriller with a splash of horror overtones. I say splash because there is a distinct muting¬†of dread and revulsion, which are still there. OK, maybe not the revulsion. Where Final Girl truly shines is the visuals and the characterization.

Final Girl opens with a man named William (Wes Bentley) talking to a young girl about the death of her parents. He gives her a number of tests before deciding to take her into some form of shadowy program. The film then advances twelve years, the young girl Veronica (Abigail Breslin) now grown up has spent the last twelve years training under William to be a deadly killer. Trained in hand to hand combat, to resist fatigue, different weapons as well as survival. For her last test Veronica is given a chemical cocktail showing her, her greatest fear. Which happens to be failure. It also serves the purpose of allowing her to understand the mental state of her assigned victims will be experiencing. Who we then learn about. Four men, Danny (Logan Huffman), Shane (Cameron Bright), Nelson (Reece Thompson), and their leader Jameson (Alexander Ludwig) are a group of like minded sociopaths who have created a ritual where they hunt and kill young women in the woods. Their increasing body count has brought them to the attention of Williams superiors and their elimination is assigned to Veronica as her first solo assignment. Veronica visits the dinner, which the group frequent. Veronica purposefully drawing the attention Jameson, who quickly invites Veronica intending to make her his next victim. The next night Veronica goes the with the boys to the woods where they play a game of truth or dare. She gives the boys a drink from her flask that’s been laced with the same chemical cocktail she previously took and once there hunt begins, the hunters become the hunted…

This film is visually stunning, making up for any areas that are lacking in substance. Though if there are any, I didn’t notice them. The quasi 1950’s setting, coupled with the constant rain, the use of color and light really make this film stand out. Veronica’s red dress in contrast to the black and white worn tuxedos worn by the hunters works great.

I also like the characters as we get a sense of who they are, while not having to dedicate tons of dialog and screen time to anyone character. Final Girl’s characters ride the sweet spot in this regard. When each of the killers is introduced were given just a short amount of time to get a feel for each one and Tyler Sheilds does a great job capitalizing on that time.

Another thing that I liked and feel works strongly in Final Girl’s favor is the lack of gore. As the film is practically devoid of it. this film has very little blood and absolutely no viscera. Though I feel this works in its favor as it fits both the tone and style of the film.

Final thoughts, I really like this film. Beyond the visuals and what I’ve talked about there’s enough her to be worth a second or even third look. As Final Girl has a surprising amount of depth and I would love to see a follow-up film exploring the further exploits of Veronica and William. Though I am left with the linger question if the films protagonist’s are actually any better than those they spent the film killing. Since William spent years training a little girl to be a deadly weapon, to function as basically an assassin for an organization that functions outside the law. Like I said there’s some depth here. 9/10