Genre: Horror / Drama
IMDB Rating: 5.8 / 10
I love zombie movies, but I’ll be the first to admit that the genre has become over-saturated. Every little film maker with a spare weekend and some blood and every would-be novelist with Microsoft Word seems to think that they can bang together some kind of zombie story that will either re-invent the genre (which it won’t) or be so comedic that we’ll all sit up and have a grand old laugh (which we won’t).
So I’m very wary when it comes to watching or reading anything to do with zombies, especially considering that I strongly believe that Romero zombies are the right zombies (and not the kind that crave tacos). The trailer for Extinction got my attention for looking like it was trying to do something a little different and inject a little more apocalyptic terror beyond what a zombie outbreak usually brings to the table. It isn’t entirely successful in its execution, but it gets far more right than it gets wrong and is well worth the rental fee you’ll be charged to watch it.
Unlike most zombie films the actual outbreak doesn’t take up much screen time, and is over in about ten minutes. Infection breaks out, quarantine doesn’t work, people die, people turn, dead people get up and eat other people. Very standard stuff.
Flash forward nine years and the world is a barren, frozen wasteland. You never find out why the world is gripped in a permanent winter, and while this does make it very difficult in terms of finding food and staying warm, it’s meant that the survivors of the zombie outbreak have managed to live their lives in relative safety since the creatures died off when the cold set in. Or so they think.
Our story centres around Jack and his daughter Lu, and their neighbour Patrick. Jack and Patrick were friends when the outbreak happened and together with baby Lu and her mother Emma, they managed to escape the cities and set up a reasonably peaceful existence in the middle of what may have once been cosy farmland. Somewhere along the way Emma died and Jack and Patrick’s friendship soured, but life has nevertheless been pretty good to the three of them considering the circumstances.
Until it becomes apparent that not all of the zombies were killed off by the never-ending winter. Worse than not dying off, they’ve undergone some kind of rapid evolution to become perfectly suited to this new environment. In place of the rabid infected human being is a swift, agile hunter who hunts by sound with razor-sharp teeth and claws and, thanks to the original zombie virus, can withstand a lot of damage before being taken down.
When a pack of these evolved undead happen upon our survivors’ idyllic little homes they, along with a mysterious woman who managed to escape the marauding creatures, will need to use all their wits (and ammo) if they have any hope of making it out alive.
Wikipedia tells me that Extinction had a budget of $7.8 million, which isn’t an awful lot when you consider what it takes to bang some other movies together. What I liked, however, was that the filmmakers were clever in the way that they used their budget.
There are certain parts of the movie that look a little cheap – this is particularly true when it comes to landscape shots which you can see have been produced with CGI. Not that the CGI is terrible, it’s just very apparent.
This, however, has allowed the filmmakers to focus on the sets (such as Jack and Patrick’s homes) and on the creatures themselves. The evolved undead are terrifying creatures in that you can see that someone has put a lot of thought into how a human being would look if (a) it went feral, and (b) was forced to live in a frozen tundra. Given that the movie is meant to be centered on these characters and their interactions with one another, their environment, and the monsters that hunt them, the emphasis has been properly placed and allows the movie’s plot to happily keep going.
Extinction is a good movie. It suffers from some issues with pacing, and I do feel that they could have sped up the earlier part of the movie and extended the latter part, but overall the horror, apocalypse and the mild intrigue work very well together.
It’s not the sort of movie I would rush out to see again, but I would gladly own on DVD as soon as it went on sale somewhere.
My Final Rating: 6 / 10
Buy Extinction at Amazon.com