Time for another sci-fi double feature, along with my review. My word isn't law, but I like to think I have developed a refined taste in movies, and I'm very specific about what I like or dislike about them. So, here are my reviews of the two movies for tonight.
Again, if you'd rather not read my full review, just go by the numbers at the end of each review. Here's the full scale and what each rating means.
5 = Awesome! I'm buying the dvd, baby!
4 = Really good. I'd see it again.
3 = Not bad. Worth watching at least once.
2 = Pretty weak. Not worth watching unless you're stoned.
1 = Awful. Don't even bother.
0 = Burn it! For the love of god, burn it!
Okay. Review time.
My initial reactions to this one were pretty good. Let's see how the whole thing stacks up.
Starting out, some guy and his girl get roped into a hostage situation with a wanted man and his junkie partner. But things go from bad to worse when they find themselves in a whole new kind of zombie attack.
The creatures in this movie are apparently the product of some kind of parasitic mold. It infects and feeds on living or recently dead tissue, and then reanimates it to get around and find more to feed on. The result is pretty damn scary.
Once they find themselves trapped in a gas station convenience store, the rest of the film pits the three surviving characters against the con's dead girlfriend, who thanks to the mold has been turned into a gruesome killing machine out for blood. Forced to work closely together, the hostages and the con form an unlikely friendship in order to stay alive.
I'll admit I was a little put-off by the con and his girl's characters early on, but the rest of the story kept me hooked. It's a familiar scenario, but manages to be very original in its execution. I genuinely like our main characters, even more so as the movie progresses and we get to know them better. Thus, I care about whether they're able to survive their situation. This makes for an engrossing horror experience.
The majority of the film revolves around three main characters, with others only making brief appearances. So, with most of the focus on them, the mains needed to really shine here. This is no Oscar-winner, but I think they pulled it off.
You'll recognize Paulo Costanzo from various comedy films, many of which actually made it to theaters. He's good at his craft, and I really like him in this role. Co-star Jill Wagner is likable and works well with Costanzo. Shea Whigham gives a somewhat underwhelming performance (though to be fair, he has kind of a lousy character to portray), but he doesn't drag the rest of the group down. Whatever off moments any of them had were few and forgettable, so my hat is off to them for a job well done.
The mold creatures are like something out of Silent Hill. Creepy as hell, nightmarish, and refreshingly unique. Even the characters can't help but take a moment to admire the sheer freakishness of their assailants.
The use of blood and gore felt a bit excessive at times, but they made sense in context. The creature survives on blood after all, so of course it would kill you in such a way as to spill as much as possible. Still, some of the gorier scenes felt off to me. They were tastefully done, but not altogether realistic looking. The movie's limited budget is probably to blame here. However, despite a few disappointing dismemberments, the overall bloody atmosphere works very well.
This movie makes use of some weird camera techniques. Everyone seems to have their own approach to action sequences. In this case, when things pick up, the camera starts shaking like it's having a seizure. I think the general intent here is to portray the sense of panic to the audience. It's actually fairly effective at doing this, but by the end can be more than a little distracting.
The music is standard horror movie fare. It's generally pretty forgettable, but it follows the emotional pacing of the movie well enough. Not perfectly, maybe, but well enough to keep you engaged.
I really did enjoy this one. It's not perfect of course, but the overall experience is intact despite its flaws. It's compelling enough to keep you interested throughout, and while the ending won't blow you away, it's still better than average.
If you have a weak stomach for dismemberment, blood and the like, you might want to avoid this one. Though if you do, why would you even be reading this review? Anyway, if you like survival horror, and you're interested in a unique take on the zombie movie experience, I highly recommend this one.
Final Score: 4/5
Of course, for every good movie...
I Am Omega
Oh God, what the fuck were they thinking? Okay, let's just get this movie review over with quickly so I can take some minipress and lie down before I smash my head through a wall for ever watching it.
This premise is a complete and obvious rip off of I Am Legend. Lone survivor of a crazy necrotizing virus learns he's not alone, and there is a cure to be found. So, he must fight to save humanity's last hope while struggling to cope with his grief over the loss of his wife and son long ago. Does any of this sound familiar? For the life of me, I can't tell if this was supposed to be some kind of remake, or just a blatant dime-store knock-off of a popular book and movie. Even the title is a near-perfect copy.
But hey, at least I Am Legend had some unique and terrifying zombies. Sure, they weren't really zombies per-se, but they worked for the story. Fast, vicious, and single-minded. They made the perfect antagonists for Dr. Robert Neville. So, if this is a rip-off of I Am Legend, it'll probably at least have some interesting zombies, right?
Wrong. The zombies, although reasonably creepy-looking, are absolute crap. They don't act like zombies. They don't move like zombies. And they don't even die like zombies. The first scene in the movie, a zombie knocks out a woman with a smack in the face, then runs to hide while it gets ready to attack the kid. What the fuck is that? Undead or not, these zombies are functionally retarded. If Romero saw these things in action, he'd grab a shotgun and blow his own brains out.
Then we get to see how freaking easy these things are to kill. They're pathetic. You can stab them, shoot them in the stomach, or apparently even punch and kick them to death without much fear. Fuck, you could strangle them with a cordless phone. The main character actually takes out three or four of them by himself in the first ten minutes.
And yet, later in the movie when confronted by a single zombie, he has to run frantically to his car to get his shotgun. As if he has anything to fear from these things. As if the one-man-army fight scene and the five-minute sequence of practicing kung-fu and jujitsu in his back yard never happened. To steal a joke from the Larry the Cable Guy roast, this fucking plot has more holes in it that Gary Busey's brain.
And then, of course, the stereotypical fat bald black guy zombie shows up. It always does, doesn't it? Not only does this thing just stand there staring stupidly at the main character for several seconds before even considering attacking, as soon as it finally does, he easily kills it with a few stabs and slashes across the stomach with a machete. Really? A couple stabs in the ribs, and the fat fuck goes down? I'm not sure that would kill me right away, let alone a fucking 300-pound zombie.
Alright, so enough about the crap fau-zombies. What about the main character? Well, taken alone, he's no Will Smith, but I can almost like the guy. What hurts the character is the casting choice. Actor Mark Dacascos has a weird and frankly obnoxious interpretation of this guy. He's trying way way too hard to look like a bad-ass at any given moment. And I understand he's supposed to be in denial that anyone else survived, but when he sees the video feed from the woman trying to contact him, he freaks out like an arachnophobe getting a live video chat request from a 30-foot spider. Completely unbelievable. And the very next time it happens, he's suddenly able to accept talking to her, only to say "no, I don't believe this" after talking with her for two minutes. That's a hell of a flip-flop there.
As I said, the zombie make-up is pretty good. It's not great, it's pretty good. Mediocre is the word typically used for this. And unfortunately, the zombie make-up is the high point in the special effects department. The fire effects were downright sad. What did they do the digital effects with, Windows Movie Maker?
I don't think I can properly assess this, as it would give the false impression that this film has any form of 'value' at all. But in general, the editing and presentation is passable at best. The camerawork is decent, but nothing to write home about. The music is generic and uninteresting, and usually fails to capture the mood.
So, to recap, we have bad actors, bad writing, bad directing, mediocre effects, lame presentation, and to top it all off, the whole story itself is just a rip-off of a better film. Granted, Plan 9 from Outer Space could be called a better film than this, but I digress.
I am sorry to say I watched the whole thing, but I was ready to pass my final judgment only 40 minutes in. And every minute afterward, it just got worse and worse.
Overall: This movie is total crap. Don't watch it on tv. Don't rent it when the dvd comes out. Don't even remind me after today that this piece of shit was ever made. I may be a masochist, but even I'm not insane enough to watch this shit twice.
Final Score: 0/5