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Movie Review: The Rezort

the-rezort

Released: 2015
Genre: Horror
IMDB Rating: 5.1 / 10

Those people who know me will testify to just how much of a wild child I am – staying up till 11 on a work night, playing music with swear words in them when an innocent child with ears like a bat might be within hearing distance, wearing mismatched socks and not giving a damn. I’m sure you get the picture. So my epic badassness decided it wanted to live on the edge, and nothing gets the adrenaline pumping quite like a 5.1 IMDB rating – it really could go either way. Will this be one of those hidden gems that you recommend to friends, or will it just be one of those hit and miss movies that bores you a little but you committed so you watch it to the end anyway?

Usually with this sort of thing you need to waste a good 40 minutes before you find out if you made a bad choice or not, but as soon as I heard British accents I knew we were going to be OK.

Ooh gurl, this my jam!

Ooh gurl, this my jam!

The Plot

10 years ago the world was ravaged by a virus that turned the dead into voracious killing machines. Unlike other zombie apocalypses where mankind just kinda lies down and takes it a British stiff upper lip led the world as it fought back and contained the outbreak, and now the world is more or less zombie free and back on its feet.

The only place that still has zombies in abundance is the Rezort, a holiday destination on an island off the coast of North Africa where those survivors who need to let off some steam can put the undead back in their graves in relative safety. Melanie thinks that this is just what she needs – still haunted by the war against the undead and the loss of her father, perhaps blowing some human corpses to smithereens will help give her some closure.

Of course there are still wackos in the world, and some believe that just because something’s a reanimated corpse with a desire for human flesh and the capability to bring about our complete and utter annihilation doesn’t mean it doesn’t have rights, so rightly or wrongly they aren’t the greatest fans of the Rezort. When one of them manages to hack into the Rezort’s servers and deactivate all of the security on the island all of the tourists must once again fight for their lives – not just against the zombies, but also against the Brimstone Protocol, which will see the island incinerated to stop a further outbreak in just a few hours.

Melanie’s gonna need to get a whole lotta closure if she’s gonna make it off the island.

Bitch please, I don't have time for you to shoot me.

Bitch please, I don’t have time for you to shoot me.

The Visual

Ever since The Walking Dead revitalised the genre zombie movies have become a dime a dozen, and more often than not get it very wrong since surprisingly few seem to understand that your zombie movie lives or dies on how good your zombies look and behave. Thankfully the good people behind The Rezort knew what they were doing, and the zombies are nicely put together and behave in a suitably menacing manner. The movie also goes for the ‘the fresher they are, the more they can move’ approach, which means that you only really need to make the older zombies look bedraggled while contact lenses and some fake blood will suffice for the newer ones without detracting from the overall scare factor.

Also, if they ever salvage the island from the Brimstone Protocol, I want to buy it. I imagine the property price will be quite low and the scenery is rather majestic.

Nothing compares to a child's smile.

Nothing compares to a child’s smile.

The Feelings

Satisfaction.

The Rezort is never going to be considered a classic, but what I liked most about it was its fresh approach to the zombie apocalypse – very rarely in these movies does mankind ever win the battle, let alone turn it into a thriving business opportunity. I can see something like this happening just as much as I can imagine there being zombie rights activists in the event of an outbreak.

In the midst of the general mayhem and panic the movie also manages to throw in some surprisingly good social commentary, which I commend since this is what drove a lot of zombie films, particularly Romero’s, in their nascent years. What it deals with is very timely given a number of disasters currently besetting the world without making the movie become preachy, which isn’t always the easiest balance to strike.

I vote that we just hand the zombie genre in its entirety over to the Brits to handle from here – when they do it, they just do it right.

My Final Rating7 / 10
Buy The Rezort at Amazon.com

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Posted by on October 2, 2016 in Movie Review

 

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Movie Review: Extinction

Extinction

Released: 2015
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.

The events of that Black Friday sale would haunt her forever.

The events of that Black Friday sale would haunt her forever.

The Plot

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.

Life in rural Scotland had never been easy.

Life in rural Scotland had never been easy.

The Visuals

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.

SURPRISE HUGS!!

SURPRISE HUGS!!

The Feelings

Comfortingly entertained.

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

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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in Movie Review

 

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Movie Review: The Returned

The Returned_Poster

Released: 2013
Genre: Drama / Horror
IMDB Rating: 5.9 / 10

Every now and then a movie comes along that looks so interesting that you can’t help but want to watch it. When it comes to zombie movies I would say I’m somewhat of a Romero-esque purist: zombies must be slow-moving, incapable of higher thought, attack in hordes, and kill mercilessly and without humour. Then again, I loved Warm Bodies (even my unromantic soul was not untouched by the fact he came back from the dead for the girl he loved), so I thought I’d give The Returned a try. Sadly this is a very good premise that is terribly executed, and you are soon wading through so many different forms of social commentary that you’ll need to put on some boots for fear of getting bogged down in the mud.

Exposure to The Returned on the average human participant.

The results of exposing the average human participant to The Returned.

The Plot

The world has been ravaged by a viral outbreak, turning those exposed into mindless, murderous legions of the undead. Unlike most movies that follow this basic premise, however, The Returned takes place after the outbreak in a world that is remarkably more controlled and sanitary than most other movies or The Walking Dead would lead us to anticipate. Clever little humans have managed to extract a cure from the initial batch of people who were infected. This protein, if injected into recently bitten individuals who have yet to completely succumb to the infection, will block the virus from wreaking havoc on the body. These people are known as the Returned.

The movie follows the story of Alex, a Returned music teacher, and Kate, a doctor who has helped pioneer how the Returned are dealt with medically. So long as Alex takes his daily injection, the virus will have no effect on him and he can lead a normal, if somewhat muted and indie, life. The two of them are as blissfully happy as any morose couple can be, and Kate doesn’t care if her boyfriend carries in him a virus that, if activated, will lead him to see her as a light lunch. Oh, what a time to be alive!

But not everyone in the world is as accepting of the Returned. Since the virus cannot be cured, only kept in check, every Returned is a carrier for the virus. Equally, should one of the Returned forget to take their medication, the virus will activate and possibly cause another outbreak. Because of this, some members of society view them as ticking time bombs and want to have them eradicated.

The problem is that these people might have a point – the protein used to create the injections can only be sourced from an already infected individual. Since the world has been so good at making sure the virus doesn’t spread, the source of the protein is running dry and the stockpile of injections running low. With scientists unable to create a successful synthetic protein, time is running out for Alex. What follows is a torrid dramatic escape from the law as friendships and relationships are tested, parents are driven to the limits, the darkness that lurks in all of us is examined, and the valid question of whether or not fat people should be allowed to thrive in society due to the fact that they may be visually unsightly is raised.

My face throughout the greater part of the movie.

My face throughout the greater part of the movie.

The Visuals

Since this is, at least nominally, a zombie movie, one would expect to be inundated with gore and people whose faces are falling off. Sadly, you won’t be. If you see two people actually turn into zombies it’s a lot, and even then there’s no real attempt at make up. All you’re going to be treated to are extras with a bit of fake blood thrown willy nilly across their bodies while they themselves make overly forced jerking motions at the camera. Not impressed movie, not impressed.

But why sacrifice the on-screen joy that is a well put-together zombie, you may ask? That’s because the film feels that it’s far more important that you be treated to nearly two hours of dull, muted scenery. I feel the zombie apocalypse must have wiped out the power grid and we’re still trying to recover, because the mood lighting in this film is something else entirely. Then there’s the endless barrage of apartments and homes with utterly impractical furnishings and even more dull colour palettes, a hospital that is so dark and gloomy it’s remarkable that anyone recovers, and an inexplicably damp parking garage that really should have its plumbing checked.

What I assume the makers behind this gem were going for was atmosphere that elicits a sense of gloomy despair in its audience, but all it actually manages to achieve is an ongoing feeling of mind-numbing boredom.

Shoot the movie! Kill it!

Shoot the movie! Kill it!

The Feelings

Frustration. Frustration is the main emotion that this movie will bring out in you. The reason for that is, at its core, the movie has a really good premise that could have been put to far better use. There could have been a little more action, characters that you actually gave a crap about, all those things. Instead you’re subjected to being hit by social commentary in the same way Miley Cyrus comes in like a wrecking ball.

Now, any zombie movie worth its salt is going to explore some social issues. All of Romero’s movies did, but they’re nice and subtle so they don’t bog down what’s going on, and instead you walk away and start to think about what you’ve just watched and slowly explore the film’s inner nuances. Not so with The Returned, oh no. There’s the stigma surrounding the Returned and how, since the virus is totally controllable thanks to modern medicine, they shouldn’t be treated differently to any other human being since it can only be contracted through contact with infected blood. Not through hand holding, not through sharing the same eating utensils. You get the picture. And then, to rub salt in an already exposed wound, the Returned have to come out to their friends and family. More open-minded individuals will realise that this doesn’t change who their loved ones are, and some have always secretly known. Others will believe it’s a curse from God and that they are somehow being punished. Again, you get the picture.

I’m not a bigot, and the stigma surrounding people with HIV and the ongoing battles against homophobia are by no means little issues that don’t deserve our attention, but this movie doesn’t deal with them in any useful way. They’re just kind of thrown out there while the tepid action tries to plod along to the finishing line. If you’re going to build your story around these kinds of issues, you actually have to do something with them that doesn’t end down the barrel of a gun.

But we’re not done yet. With all of these dull and useful things going on, The Returned then attempts an ending that could only have been inspired by The Mist. Really now. What the people behind this movie have done is bad enough, but please don’t try to drag other, much greater, movies down with you. AND THEN, and this is my ultimate pet peeve and the breaking of an unspoken rule for the genre, the characters actually refer to the Returned as ‘zombies’. You just don’t do that. That’s Zombie Movie 101 knowledge right there.

The only way I can think to succinctly describe this movie is this: it feels like it was made by people (and we have all met these people) who only read books from the canon of English literature and only watch pretentious foreign arthouse films – not because they want to, but because that’s what pompous people are meant to do. In summary, don’t watch this – it fails in its attempt to be a thoughtful social commentary, and abysmally as a zombie film.

My Final Rating: 2 / 10
Buy The Returned at Amazon.com

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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in Movie Review

 

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