Sunday, March 14, 2010

Survival of the Dead (2009)

I'm a fan of Zombie movies, even when they're zombie movies in all but name (think Rec 2). Zombies generally come in two varieties; slow Zombies and fast Zombies.  Fast zombies are scarier, but the slow zombies were caught on celluloid first, most notably by the director of  Survival of the Dead (2009).

George Romero needs little introduction.  Director of the Night of the Living Dead (1968), he was largely responsible for the genre's popularity. Not averse to social commentary, his zombie movies often have distinct political themes - the civil rights movement, consumerism, and the class war. More recently, Diary of the Dead (2007) riffed on the Youtube generation. At the very least, they had a degree of depth, regardless of their other merits (or demerits).

Why is why Survival of the Dead (2009) is disappointing. It feels thin and rather underdeveloped, with just a few gore shots to give it some visceral appeal.

"Nicotine" Crockett heads a team of four heavily armed Guardsmen. They meet Patrick O'Flynn, the patriarch of an Irish family who were banished from an island by the head of the other family on the island, Seamus Muldoon (how these two families got sole dominion of an island a couple of hours off the coast of Delaware is never explained).  Patrick's transgression was to kill zombies; Seamus, out of a sense of religious fervor, wants them "alive" and train them not to eat human meat.

Patrick persuades (through a rather prickly initial meeting) Nicotine Crockett to head back the island on a ferry.  And that's the point at which the film falls apart.  We're forced to sit through an hour of a tiresome plot that goes nowhere very quickly, although some social satire bubbles up to the surface when we see chained up zombies, who were postmen, farmworkers and housewives when alive, repetitively carrying out their previous work tasks.

The zombies on the island are not frightening and they have no real sense of menace, so we can scratch that right out of the appeal equation.  Additionally, the movie appears rather low budget at points with some ineptly filmed gun fights.  Some interesting plot points are obliquely referenced (such as the ability of zombies to learn repetitive tasks from their prior lives), but these are never developed.

Only watch this movie if your OCD stretches to watching every zombie movie released.  All others in need of some zombie-slayin' action, see the far more interesting Rec 2 and its prequel instead.

No comments:

Post a Comment