Dawn Of The Dead: Fighting Zombies In A Mall, Where Have I Seen That Before

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of survivors of a zombie plague must fight for their continued survival.

In a sea of faceless, samey zombie films this one actually manages to have a decent amount of heart in it. Over the course of the film I found myself actually caring for the characters, the film did a good job of evolving the characters over time to so they felt like real people who grew with time and experience rather than a group of cliches and stereotypes.

Though that is not to say that this film does not fall back on genre tropes because it does. Truly the worst thing about this film is that it feels played out, there is nothing particularly new or interesting to the story it has been done before and it will be done again: this is more of a critique on the zombie sub-genre but it is a key issue for this film.

I thought the performances were good for the most part with one or two side characters letting the side down a bit. I would say Ving Rhames is the standout star of the film as he is the heart and soul of the piece and feels the most human out of the characters on screen.

Overall, this is a good zombie film sadly though that is not enough and because of how played out this film feels and how afraid it seems to be to hit new ground it stifles itself out of being anything better.

Pros.

The heart

The characters for the most part

The ending

Cons.

A few weak side characters

It feels played out and done before

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Army Of The Dead: A Zombie Tiger, Now I Really Have Seen Everything

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This film was billed as the restoration of the zombie genre bringing it back to popularity- it is not that. Really, this is more of the same zombie killing action that you have seen done to death over the last ten years across all forms of media. Yes, there are some funny moments and some good knowingly cringe moments like playing the Cranberries song Zombie at the end, but even still it can’t make up for the fact that you have seen it all before.

The cast of characters are mostly forgettable, the only two who inspired any real interest were Lily and Martin and yet, they got killed before they had any real chance to grow into interesting characters- the same can be said for the rest. Not everyone needed to die to make this film feel dramatic.

I thought Bautista was fine as the lead, serviceable but not in any way memorable. Moreover, I found his daughter character to be extremely annoying and poorly written: she’s angry at her dad so she will willingly put her own life at risk to spite him, when the zombies are gearing up for an attack she runs outside, it is bafflingly dumb.

Additionally, I didn’t like the reveal that the zombie queen was pregnant when she died, I thought it was needless and in bad taste: more so when they cut her stomach open and pulled out her dead zombie baby. It left a bad taste in my mouth that is still taste as I am writing this review.

Finally, the runtime of this film makes it a slog. There is no reason this film needs to be over two hours, none, and yet it is.

The action and the cinematography are for the most part well done and visually pleasing, however I found that a lot of the concepts were not fully realised: there is a zombie tiger who other than killing off one character does very, very little and which could have been so much more.

Overall, the zombie genre is played out.

Pros.

The action

The cinematography

Cons.

The dead zombie baby

The runtime and staggering pacing issues

It is repetitive

None of the characters are allowed to be interesting

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Thr33 Days Dead: The Sort Of Fishing Trip That Includes Running From Zombies

Thr33 Days Dead is a zombie horror film directed by John M. Ware. The plot follows a group of friends who head down to the lake for a spot of fishing, however their trip is ruined when they find out that their town has been overrun by zombies.

I enjoyed this film it resorted my faith in a tired sub-genre. Very much like found footage, zombie horror has been done to death, but this film proved to me there is still more life within the genre. I thought the film treated its zombies with a great deal of care, giving homage to past classics while trying for something new.

I thought the film had a few good scares that I didn’t see coming, so I will give it props for that. The more comedic elements were hit and miss for me, sometimes it made me laugh when I don’t think I was supposed to, and other times funny moments left me cold.

The acting is all solid, the actors seem to care about the film and are trying; that is evident in their performance. I thought Bryan Boylen was particularly good, and his performance made the film for me.

Overall, a nice unique zombie film that restores my faith in the subgenre even if the tone sometimes goes in the wrong direction.

Pros.

Restoring the sub-genre

Handling zombies with care

Good performances

Some good scares

Cons.

The more lighthearted moments and a lot of unintentional laughs

4/5

Reviewed by Luke  

Peninsula: The Ruins Of A Good Idea

Peninsula is a South Korean Horror film directed by Sang-ho Yeon which serves as a sequel to Train To Busan. The plot this time around see a group of people sent back into South Korea in an effort to retrieve a truck full of money, however once they arrive they realise that zombies aren’t the only thing they need to worry about.

This film is not a horror film, that is a miscategorisation, there is nothing scary about this film even slightly; this is an action film. Gone are the tense claustrophobic moments of the first film, in are car chases and shooting your way through hordes of the undead, and unsurprisingly this takes all of the tension out of the film

This is only made worse by the fact that this film also tries to add jokes into the mix here and there, thankfully sparingly. Which again serve to ruin any kind of tension and drastically change the tone of the film.

Despite this, the film is still worth a watch the world of these films is interesting and this builds on that and adds new wrinkles. Furthermore the action elements aren’t bad, they were just not what I was expecting from a horror film, there are a few good action moments scattered throughout, a few of these reminded me of The Raid, though not nearly so well done.

Overall, a failure of a horror film, but a surprisingly watchable action film. Go in with low expectations and knowing the true genre and there is something to like about this film.

Pros.

Some cool action moments

More world building

Cons.

It is not scary

The action and the awful comedy take away any sense of tension

The CGI is noticeably worse

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke    

Train To Busan: Giving A Whole New Meaning To The Phrase Rush Hour

Train To Busan is a South Korean horror film directed by Sang-Ho Yeon. The plot sees Seok- Woo (Yoo Gong­), and his daughter Soo-an (Su-an Kim), become trapped on a train in the middle of a viral infection outbreak that turns people into yes you guessed it zombies. Things quickly get out of hand.

I have been meaning to watch this film for a very long time and I am glad I finally did. Much like the found footage genre, zombies are played out they have been done every which way from Sunday and there isn’t much new to be done with them, at least so I thought before I watched this film.

Yes, this film reinvigorates, at least for me, the tired bloated corpse of the zombie horror subgenre, proving that there is a way to still make zombies cool and scary. The frantic train scenes where you know it is just a matter of time before the zombies break through the glass doors are frankly menacing and you can’t help but feel filled with dread.

As well as the strong horror sensibilities this film also has a keen sense of familial drama. The father daughter relationship is central to the narrative of the film, and it is fully explored with much more depth than I thought it was going to be. The ending will have you in tears it is that sad.

Overall, a very layered horror film that manages to do multiple things well, being able to both scary you and make you cry.

Pros

Making zombies scary again

The ending

The father daughter stuff

The frantic nature of the zombies and the threat they pose

Cons.

I could guess some of the twists before they happened

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke   

Pontypool: Ghosts Of The Radio

Pontypool is a Canadian horror film directed by Bruce McDonald. The plot follows a local radio crew in the midst of a language-based pandemic. Said virus effects English speakers making them slowly lose their minds and become transfixed on killing themselves and others, the pathogen seems to be triggered by repeat use of language and the perceived meaning of words.

I have to hand it to this film it is one of the most original zombie esque films I have ever seen, the premise which is based on the novel by Tony Burgess, Pontypool Changes Everything, is truly original and novel and for that I applaud them. I have never seen another film quite like this, the only other film that I can draw a slight if inaccurate comparison to is Arrival and that is souly because language is of huge importance in that film.

However, I think based on how the film executes its premise that it would be better suited to a short film: because though learning about what is going on and the virus is cool and interesting it just isn’t enough to sustain an hour and a half film. As such a lot of the other stuff such as the conflict between Grant (Stephen McHattie), and his producer in the beginning it all just feels like filler, it feels as though it has been written in to pad out the run time, because it adds nothing, the film doesn’t really get going until the virus stuff starts.

That I think is the key issue with this film, though it is novel and original, there just isn’t enough there to keep you entertained for an hour and a half. As the film was midway through, I was really starting to lose interest and yes, the break threw at the end and the bizarre post credits scene does something to pull me back, but it doesn’t really make you check back in.

Overall, though it is original and interesting it still falls down in the middle and becomes a slog that is hard to finish and honestly if I was reviewing it, I probably would have turned it off here, full of promise, but not fun to watch.

Pros.

The premise is cool.

It is truly unique.

Cons.

It is hard to get through.

There is not enough cool stuff to sustain the runtime.

After a point it becomes boring.

2/5

Reviewed by Luke

Dead Shack: Zombies Gotta Eat

Dead Shack is a comedy horror film directed by Peter Ricq. The plot sees a family go to stay in the countryside, once they’re there the children of the family realise that there is something wrong with the woman next-door; she is feeding people to her zombie family, and their parents seem to be next on the menu.

The first 45 minutes of this film are a slog, boring, confusing, and poorly done. The opening cinematography choice of using a collection of bird’s eye shots, while we hear diegetic audio that we can’t see, is jarring and not nice to watch. This turned me off the film before it had even begun.

It is also confusing because as we are introduced to the characters, all of whom are incredibly bland barring the father of the family Roger (Donovan Stinson), we don’t understand how they are related. This is particularly true of Jason (Matthew Nelson-Mahood), even after watching it till the end, I still don’t understand why he was there or who he was to the family; it seems needless obtuse.

The only positive of this first half of the film is Roger, the dad, who is hilarious. Comedy in this film is a strange beast because whenever anyone other than Roger makes a joke it falls flat and is painfully unfunny, but when Roger does it he actually manages to make you laugh; reminding you that this film is supposed to be a comedy horror, rather than just bland. This a testament to Stinson’s comedic abilities.

The second half of the film is better as it focuses on the showdown between the kids and the neighbour, there is no weird cinematography or editing choices, it flows much better, it actually gives you some faith in the film. The showdown itself is well done and we get some nice gore and a few shocks, it is not enough to be remembered after you have finished it mind, but it is still far, far better than the first half.

Overall, this is an okay film, there are a few good jokes and the second half is watchable. However, the first half is a real drag to watch so I really can’t recommend it.

Pros.

Donovan Stinson.

The second half really turns it around.

Cons.

Bad filmmaking decisions.

Terrible characters.

One of the worst first halves I’ve seen in a long time.

1.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Zombie Spring Breakers: Hans After Peep Show

Zombie Spring Breakers is a horror comedy directed by Andy Edwards. The plot sees a group of young people head off to Ibiza to escape all the pressure of back home, namely a zombie outbreak. However, surprise surprise the party island hasn’t been able to keep the zombies out and the island becomes infected soon after their arrival and our plucky group needs to escape.

This is great horror junk food; will it change the world or reinvent the genre? No. However, it is good for a few good laughs and some gory kills. This is defiantly a zombie comedy rather than a horror comedy as there is no horror in this film at all, this film doesn’t even consider trying to balance the two genre it just throws everything into the comedy.

With that it mind, this film is funny it does have it’s moments, not all of the jokes land it isn’t a joke a minute, none stop, laughing fit, but it will give you a smile or two while you watch it. The main comedic force in this film is Matt King (of Peep Show fame), who plays the film’s villain, evil club owner Karl. King has all the best lines and every time we get to see him interact with another member of the cast or deliver a line; we get to see why he is such a talented performer; if it wasn’t for him this film would be easily forgotten.

The rest of the cast is fine, they are serviceable enough, they won’t blow you away. None of them are really memorable and you will forget them when the film ends. They are the usual collection of stereotypes and character types, as you probably aren’t surprised, but at least they seem to have good on-screen chemistry together.

Overall, this is the sort of film that won’t affect you either way if you miss it, however if one night it is on the TV and you’re bored and maybe a little drunk there is far worse things to watch.

Pros.

Matt King.

The cast have good chemistry.

Cons.

The characters are boring, bland and forgettable.

There is no horror.

Lots of it makes no sense at all.

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Little Monsters: Neil Diamond 27 years later and better than ever!

Little Monsters is a Zombie romantic comedy, in a similar vein to something like Life After Beth. The plot of the film revolves around Dave, (Alexander England), who after being dumped by his girlfriend moves in with his sister and her son Felix, (Diesel La Torraca). One day when Dave takes Felix to school, he meets Miss Caroline, (Lupita Nyong’o). He becomes wholly smitten, after this, he agrees to chaperone his nephew’s school trip, to impress Miss Caroline; then zombies show up, and everything gets crazy.

Before I get into my thoughts on the film, I just want to say that I genuinely believe that the Zombie genre is dead, tapped, devoid of creativity. The same story lines and character types are recycled over and over; there is nothing new to say. They should be retired, even if only for a few years, and allowed to rest in peace.

To that extent, Little Monsters is nothing new, the idea of a Zombie Romantic Comedy has been done before, Life After Beth, Warm Bodies even Zombieland has elements of romance in it, so this plot element doesn’t make this film unique. Indeed it is quirky, and by having the child cast be quite involved at times, there is a novelty to it. However, this is just a new coat of paint on a tired, used concept, and there is no getting away from that fact.

The charm of the film comes from Alexander and Nyong’o’s performances. Both are instantly likeable and maintain this throughout, their romance is well done and feels earned, including a very touching rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’, which may be one of my favourite in film songs of the year. The two actors have chemistry as well and make for a believable couple.

Josh Gad is also in this film he plays a children’s entertainer called Teddy McGiggle/ Nathan Schneider, whereas typically Gad is annoying and brings you out of the film with his over the top performance it works well here. Gad’s character is a depressed alcoholic who hates kids and views having sex with their mums as a way to get back at his child audience. So you can see that the character is going to be the over the top sort. Gad plays him to perfection savouring every second he gets to be on screen; he is most certainly a scene-stealer in this.

My major issue with this film aside from the distinct lack of originality is that the zombies don’t show up until a good 20 minutes into the film; maybe more. Based on the trailers I had seen before viewing this, I thought that Zombies would be a massive part of the film from the beginning, but that isn’t true. The first half an hour shows us how bad Dave’s life is, it drags out his breakup and the fact that he doesn’t try or, care about anything. I understand the film is doing this to show his character transformation later, but it just feels like bad writing; at best padding at worst tediously drawn out.

Overall, the first half-hour is missable, but once the zombies and Josh Gad’s character turn up, the film comes back to life. Little Monsters has very little in it that you haven’t seen before, probably done better, but it has some entertaining performances and an excellent performance of ‘Sweet Caroline’.

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke