There have been loads of Zombie movies over the years, from the legendary Night Of The Living Dead, Italian shocker Zombie, and also 28 Days Later. Even remakes such as Dawn Of The Dead. So it was just a matter of time, in wake of the rise in popularity of French horror movies like Frontiers and Martyrs that the talented guys from that country would deliver their own zombie apocalypse.
Following a night time raid on a high rise apartment building, a group of cops find themselves teaming up with the criminal gang they had set out to apprehend, when a ravenous army of zombies attack the building. This wafer-thin setup offers some fairly competent characterisation, with bickering brothers on the crooks side, a bitter, gutsy female and a hard-as-nails guy on the cop’s side, that are soon joined by an over-zealous ex-war veteran / pensioner with stacks of weaponry. Lacking the biting social commentary of a George Romero movie, but with plenty of gunfire, hand-to-hand smackdowns and oodles of blood and gore, this is certainly entertaining. The kills go for a more brutal, nasty approach rather than anything remotely inventive and at times the violence felt a touch cartoonish. Yet what spoils this is firstly an erratic camera that although attempting cool just proves annoying, then a setting that is 80% in darkness, meaning its not always clear what’s happening. Add to this moments of character stupidity I haven’t seen since the 80s – There’s someone growling and scratching at the door – don’t bloody open it!!!
So in closing, considering the otherwise stellar output from France when it comes to horror, this just lacked imagination and a personality to call its own amongst a crowded genre.
Another horror remake, but this time of a little seen no-budget shlocker from George A Romero, more known for his Zombie movies than this off-shoot. Thankfully without the knowledge of that 1973 movie to blight my viewing I was able to sit down to this afresh. Starring Timothy Olyphant, probably best known recently for his turn in Die Hard 4, this time plays a Sheriff in a small American town where after the water supply becomes tainted finds seemingly normal folk turning crazy and in one example, setting fire to their own house. Then as he tries to figure out exactly what is causing it, the military descend on the town, quaranteening it and separating people showing any sign of infection. Then its all about a battle for survival as the Sheriff and the dwindling number of uninfected try to escape.
Not as vicious or blood splattered as much horror around these days, this is more a story of survival and trust, with elements of John Carpenter’s The Thing with characters not knowing who will ‘go crazy’. I enjoyed it, and its full of suspense and some good action, with heart-in-mouth moments such as a battle in a car wash and a fight against a morgue attendant wielding a bone saw. Olyphant delivers a likable lead, even if he is missing some of that more well-known intensity because he’s playing the good guy, and the supporting cast, especially Radha Mitchell also offer gutsy, emotional performances, even if lacking any real characterisation. Perhaps it adds nothing new to the idea of infected towns folk, and could have easily been another Zombie splatter fest, with a bleak ending that left me thinking this was more of a roller coaster ride than anything with actual meaning … but then this was never going to be about deep social commentary, and with that in mind this is a worthy nights viewing, even if you’ll be hard pressed to watch it again.
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