Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Glenn Miller
Cast: Ione Butler, Andrew Asper, LaLa Nestor
Outside of a colorful introduction, the first act of the film is spent hearing pointless chatter and getting to know the focal ensemble as well as possible. Now, if the dialogue was a homerun, we’d be discussing a grand slam of a motion picture. We’d also be discussing fictional characters with passion and aggression, because those are the kinds of things that make movies feel special.
Zoombie doesn’t employ any sharp, daring or innovative technical execution. It feels like safe filming, and that’s okay in my book. I’d rather spot a familiar technique than watch a camera man battle extreme scenarios and risk his life for the experimentation and subsequent entertainment of others. That’s as ignorant as ignorant gets, and it succeeds to some degree in disrupting the viewers’ focus.
Back to the story again, we soon see the animals in the zoo are transforming, mutating. They’re even stronger than they should be. They’re savagely insistent on consuming (or just brutalizing) man, woman or child. Before we know it this once warm and welcoming zoo becomes the expansive arena for an epically violent showdown between man and monster. But can man capitalize on their superior intellect and intricate understanding of their surroundings to gain the upper hand?
I wouldn’t rush to make a bet here.
There’s an awkward charm to Zoombie. Obviously a modern piece, it still has something of a vintage feel to it. While a few performers come across as relaxed and seasoned in their craft, plenty of other participants are as wooden as Old Chief Wood’nhead. There are even a few digitally enhanced moments that looked solid, and the gore we get, practical or not, isn’t bad.
Every tough sequence on display feels entirely intentional. There are moments that call for the picture’s thespians to discard their inhibitions and have a god time in the process. Those moments, those little slivers of the pic are a big part of what makes this film far superior to your average. Zoombies is flawed, make no mistake, but it feels like a genuine success story by Asylum’s standards.
Here’s an interesting side note: The bulk of the feature was shot in Arcadia, California, which just so happens to be my hometown.