This is arguably the most important Zombie film of the last 20 years and how surprised am I to stumble across this? It’s a totally different look at how a Z flick can be built, digging more into the human element of the situation and avoiding the gun toting head shots, along with savage zombies who just want to eat flesh. This film is more about the evolution of a virus and it’s impact on surrounding society. Really interesting stuff.
The film has the basic premise. Virus breaks out, people become sick, people die, people return for the dead. A few survive the virus and are forced to witness the effect, and group together for basic survival. At this point, the dead are just stumbling about. The group go through the basic discussions of what’s best for everyone, where they should stay, where they should go, etc with the eventual outcome of a split. We follow Michael, Carl and Emma (Dexter Fletcher, Dickon Tolson, Lana Kamenov) as they head off into the country, looking for a secure building off the beaten track. They hold up in an old farm house, but start to see the walking dead make some slight changes to their patens, becoming more aware, faster and more violent.
This simple plot change is enough to carry the whole film. It’s a low budget affair, but it doesn’t impact on the look or feel of the film. The effects are decent with hardly any scenes of real gore or carnage; very unusual for a film of this style. The actors have a great script to empathise with and really do the film justice with their performances. Tolson is superb. A highlight is the appearance of David Carradine, who puts in a brilliant role as a deluded survivor, living alone with the dead on his doorstep. An absolute stunning performance.
Director Steven Rumbelow has some interesting ideas with flashbacks and dream sequences neatly scattered, alongside some fun techniques less used these days, but very effective and highly enjoyable. Carl’s bike ride is one of these scenes, with a studio screen behind the inferior camera shot. But it’s the pace of the film which makes this an enjoyable ride. It’s slow and thoughtful and mesmerising to watch, allowing the viewer to think and reflect. Rumbelow has created something worthy of the Romero tip of the hat here, which echo’s Night of the Living Dead’s social importance.