Editor’s note: This review originally appeared on Fangoria.com prior to a mass site overhaul that saw two years’ worth of work completely wiped away from the inner crevices of the net.
Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: John Pata
Cast: Drew Schuldt, Dale DeVries, Jordan Brown
Better off Undead is a run-of-the-mill zombies attack city story. Three friends find themselves the focal point of this tale, and while there’s some decent character development at work, not a single individual here conjures any genuine emotion from the viewer, whatsoever. What’s worse, there’s really not much thought invested in the plot. It’s literally three guys hoping to avoid zombies for 29 minutes. Even worse, all the viewer is subjected to, is constant bickering between three grown men… it’s really a bit pathetic. But hey, at less than a full half an hour, I can handle Chinese torture, let alone Better off Undead.
Though the flick’s packed with flaws, the most glaring weakness is the complete lack of thought, and neglect of minor details invested in this script. There’s a ton of potential, and even though limited by a truncated running time – there’s still quite a bit of impact and emotion that could have been siphoned. With the exception of a few classic one-liners, the film just fails to capitalize on every opportunity that presents itself. If it’s a moment with promise, begging for that extra little push, it gets a mild breeze, never enough to win us over. It’s almost as though the director fell asleep at the helm from time to time. Regardless, I’ll iterate – I see the outline of a prospect on the horizon, there‘s just some refinement to complete. I wouldn’t be shocked if writer/director John Pata evolves into a quality filmmaker.
Better off Undead isn’t a terrible film. The problem is, it’s not a particularly good one. The desire lies within the performances, the passion is visible. This group just isn’t prepared quite yet, they need more experience, plain and simple. I wish the entire Newbat/Head Trauma crew luck in their future ventures. I see talent emerging, and if the soul is as powerful as I believe, I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from these guys in the next few years.