Stephanie Hunt

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 Hollow (2015)

the hollow 2015 posterFor a made for TV movie for Syfy, The Hollow isn’t half bad. I’ve certainly seen worse made for TV horror films and with the restrictions placed on such projects I can see why the film feels mute. I’ll readily admit that I’m not a normally a fan of PG-13 horror films or their made for TV brethren. So The Hollow had some strikes against it going in and knowing what it was I set my hopes fairly low. So I was more than a little peeved when it failed to meet the low standards I set for it. Creature features aren’t my bread and butter, but I do enjoy them. Normally. At least when have a single like-able character, something The Hollow is devoid of.

The Hollow opens on Shelter Island, where the residents are preparing for Halloween and the big storm expected to hit the island during it. Island local Cora’s (Deborah Kara Unger) dog breaks free from her car on her way home and pursues something unseen into the woods. Cora chases out for him, where she gets attacked off-screen. The Hollow then cuts to the films protagonists sisters, Sarah (Stephanie Hunt), Marley (Sarah Dugdale) and Emma (Alisha Newton), who are all moving to the island to live with their Aunt Cora after the deaths of their parents. While waiting for the Ferry, Sarah meets Seth (Richard Harmon) who, along with the Ferryman warn the her against going to the island during the storm. Telling her that last time a storm hit the island during Halloween, half the island’s population died. Of course, all cryptic warnings are ignored and the sister’s head to Shelter Island. The three run out of gas a short distance from their aunt’s house, but make their way. When they arrive at their Aunt Cora’s country home. they find their Aunt Cora dead and another wounded woman (Veronika Hadrava) also there. Sarah has her brought into her Aunt’s house where she does her best to administer first aid. Knowning the woman is seriously hurt, Sarah decides to siphon gas from her aunts vehicle (which contains her dead body) to get theirs running. As Sarah and Marley get ready to start they notice their car is missing. With this new information they decided the only course of action is to take their Aunts vehicle. Sarah goes and gets the vehicle, while Marley and Emma wait outside the house. While Sarah is getting the vehicle out of the ditch, the wounded woman is ejected violently though the front door. Her corpse grabs Emma as tree branches grow from her corpse. She freed by Marley and the three escape to town. Where they find further devastation as the town seems devoid of life. While Sarah and Marley argue, Emma slips away unnoticed. As she blames herself for the death of her parents and everyone else around her. Sarah and Marley quickly notice her absence and start their hunt to find their sister, before something finds her…

My main issue is the sisters, who are incredibly unlikable. They argue nonstop, never shut up and make awful survival decisions. It takes them far too long to set aside their differences in the name of survival and even after they do they’re still infuriating. Every time  a side characters dies, it gets worse. Because then they get even more screen time.

The Victim Pool is fairly weak as well, with most deaths happening off-screen and the ones that do are tame. Mostly they just never get a chance to grow on you. If a character gets introduced, they typical die within fifteen minutes. Which makes hard for you to care about them.

The monster isn’t so bad. The CGI is fairly decent given this is a made for TV movie. I like the creatures look, all twisted branches with a burning core. I also liked that it was unkillable but working on a time-table so the characters just had to survive till morning. I wish that the filmmakers would have gone with another choice for its origin though. As witches vengeance doesn’t seem to fit that well. Mostly since that plot point gets heavily ignored.

Final thoughts, bland and unmemorable. It’s not bad, there are a few okish moments sprinkled throughout the film, but not enough to make it worth while to slog through the rest of the film to get it them. All this said, The Hollow was at least watchable, but not one worth recommending. 3/10