2012: Zombie Apocalypse
This SYFY movie came on a cheap movie bin four pack. You’d be surprised how often you can find a hidden gem in the muck and mire of mostly terrible films in those bins. Something interesting I’ve noticed is that, now George Romero’s landmark Night of the Living Dead has been restored and copyrighted – something he didn’t do back in the day – you don’t see it in the cheap bin anymore. As it should be, since it’s one of the quintessential American films.
Mostly what you get are movies filmed in someone’s garage and back yard, made by your most inept brother in law, starring his embarrassingly busty girlfriend. There are benefits of a semi-major entity like SYFY backing you, like being able to hire actual actors, sometimes even good ones. If I were the non-fiction book writing type I’d be interested in putting together an investigation of why half decent actors will do these cheap and forgettable forays into America’s Favorite Apocalypse. Surely it’s not the money.
2012: Zombie Apocalypse has a couple of decent actors who turn in fairly solid, nearly committed performances. Ving Rhames, who is no stranger to zombie films is his usual level headed and heroic self here, joined by Taryn Manning who made a name playing the never forgettable Pensatucky in Orange is the New Black. There are a couple of other recognizable faces, and while it’s not a stellar cast overall I didn’t find myself cringing and wishing for popcorn to throw.
Another perennial weakness of the typically atrocious zombie flick is that the plot is poorly conceived and written, generally being more concerned with putting women in their place or competing for the Most Stupid Survivor award. This time we find the writers going with something that’s been popular for thousands of years, an odyssey. Instead of spending a half hour fighting badly made up zombie extras to get into an already gutted supermarket, the group has a goal and works well together to achieve it. I kept waiting for the traditional Moronic Bad Guy Who Gets People Killed to reveal himself, but he never really showed up. I liked it.
I also liked where the movie was shot physically, beyond the backyard and the grassy ditch where cheap zombie flicks are typically shot. It was obviously done on the cheap, but there was also more effort put into giving the audience more diversity and more scope, which of course translated into more interesting scenes and a greater opportunity to add drama.
The writers are geeks, and put in some really nice geeky Easter eggs, like mentioning S-Mart and having a character named Kirkman. It’s fun when they’re easy like that and I appreciated it. A lot of the nods in Shaun of the Dead flew right over my head. I’m glad they were there, but it’s more fun when you can join in.
If you see this little gem in a zombie four pack for a couple of bucks, splurge, because it’s an hour and a half you won’t mind using on my favorite monster. It might restore your faith in low budget fun, as well. It’s not a perfect film, of course, and has a few laughable moments, but mostly it’s something fun for a wintry afternoon.
2012: Zombie Apocalypse (2011) Trailer