What is original or unique anymore? Honestly not much within many sub-genres of horror overall. Many fans grow tired of the same old, same old of horror causing them to run away faster from the genre then a horde of the undead. The key in any type of zombie film is the human connection and story that makes us want to watch the film, read the story or experience the attraction. ZOMBIES written and directed by Hamid Torabpour, produced by Cameron Romero, starring Tony Todd as well as produced and acted by Steven Luke, finds a very common voice with the human struggle to survive and to move on past the horror of losing the ones you care most about to not only the infection but the choices we make.
“So this is how the worlds end?” These words are echoed as one of the few themes within the films overall generic storytelling. ZOMBIES, while it finds a human likeness and voice, it falls short in the masses of zombie films. Lacking the proper spark on that side, ZOMBIES holds no feeling or connection to any of the characters until the very end of the story. In a nice twist that takes nearly the entire run time to fulfill, we begin ZOMBIES learning that a zombie outbreak has happened. Having to release two inmates from their cell as the world falls apart, Detective Sommers (Todd) has Luke (Luke) follow him and leave his best friend in the jail cell to die from the infection. Sommers and Luke lead a platoon of soldiers battling the undead across a variety of town locations to save the human race! The next two-thirds of the film is a series of battles and survival scenes that do not reflect anything but the generic visuals and practical FX we have come to be served on a very indie level of zombie filmmaking. Please do not think I am ripping apart a film for that reason, I have great respect for any filmmakers who put their vision out there however it just makes me shake my head when I see a name like Todd and Romero attached to this film versus the final product put out.
Todd is a bit over dramatic for me as we have seen him in so many genre films and in so many diverse roles, that I feel he is wasted here. Luke who plays Luke reminds me a of Chuck Norris style character physically and development wise, not sure if that is funny or encouraging? He is joined by a cast of characters that for the most part don’t stand out when a zombie film like this calls for it. I am not sure where the deficiency or deficiencies are but I expected more than a zombie CW film. The lead women in ZOMBIES fill their roles pretty well bringing emotion and a wicked streak at times but even with a female villain like Haley (Heidi Fellner) who can control zombies? I feel that we never learn enough about her to know why we care that she is connected to Luke or is a threat? The same goes with Bena (Raina Hein) who definitely gets more development but could have been a much more impactful character in the scope of the story. In fact, due to her final actions involved in the final act, I hoped for much more since the ending helps to ease the pain.
The film does have its strengths however with some of the humor, insightful dialogue as well as zombie film appropriate action choreographing which created the larger than life RPG feel that included a smart use of swords as well as good work on makeup for victims, zombie’s ad troops. The final twist however is where ZOMBIES truly stands out! It is so smart and for me makes me think in certain terms with THE MIST. No, it is not that level of film but does have the emotional knife that the filmmaker sticks in you! The twist at the end kind of cut me which made up for some of the lacking qualities we see in ZOMBIES. A better aspect of this film also is the cinematography which I felt was a plus in the scope of things as Timothy Torabpour has an eye for framing both the masses of the undead as well as the more intimate moments. Also, enhancing and carrying a scene through the lens of his camera. Without a doubt, there are better zombie and infection genre films to watch during this season. I’m not saying that it is not worth the time to check out. But if you have other films first, come back to this one and appreciate the indie sensibilities, video game style filmmaking and the twist ending of ZOMBIES! It the scope of things, it may be a great beginners and tamer horror film for date or someone who you have to take slowly into the darkness…
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