Written by: Daniel Hadley
Director: Miguel Angel Vivas
Cast: Mathew Fox, Jeffrey Donovan, Quinn McColgan
The idea of zombies evolving, while kind of cool, makes little sense. Dead things don’t tend to adapt to their environment. But if brush that little bit of logic aside then Extinction is a pretty good time. Aside from a few wonky effects that I’ll get into later, I had good time with it.
We open to the military escorting a group of civilians. Things go south and almost everyone is massacred by zombies. Credit where credit is due, it’s suitably tense and my expectation shifted somewhat. I love zombies (and I know many people disagree with me) but I personally think that zombie movies have grown stale over the past few years. how many times have we seen the scenario of an outbreak leading to chaos which in turn leads to a group or survivors holding up and or trying to get to a safer location? Going into Extinction totally blind I had expected much of the same (just to be clear, zombie movies are always entertaining and I do enjoy them, I just yearn for something different to be done with them), but we cut to a decade or so later and two survivors from the opening attack are living in a small snow covered town miles from any major cities.
The two survivors live separately, Jack living with a young girl Lu, while Patrick lives in complete isolation, his longing for human contact weighing down on him heavily as he sinks into depression and alcoholism. His only company is a loyal dog. The reason for the two survivors’ separate living arrangements is revealed later in flashbacks, and while it does make sense to some degree I didn’t buy it on the whole. Jack forbids any contact between Lu and Patrick and holds a level of hate towards him that given the circumstances is a little over the top, but seeing as this is, after all, a zombie apocalypse who’s to say the kind of effect it would have on the few remaining survivors.
Mathew Fox as Patrick, Jeffrey Donavan as Jack and Quinn McColgan as lu are great. Special props to McColgan, the movie would have fallen apart with a lesser performer, but she proves to be just as capable as her adult co-stars. As the movie progressed and the relationships between the three of them became less strained I grew to care somewhat about their fate. This being a horror however, I knew everything wasn’t going to stay hunky dory.
The zombies within the world of Extinction have adapted, their skin growing thick and leathery, their eyesight gone to make way for much superior hearing. They’re able move quickly, often on all fours, and they’re exceptionally dangerous and difficult to kill. Quite the threat, and in the latter half of the movie when shit hits the fan and dozens of them descend upon our main characters it makes for a suitably tense showdown. The only downside being a few instances of very low grade CGI which really stuck out given how good the practical make-up is.
This isn’t really a movie laden with gore, it’s more of a character piece and on that front it works. There isn’t a great deal of action, but for the story this movie is trying to tell that works. However, as I mentioned earlier, the hatred that Jack shows for Patrick is a little overboard and makes his character seemingly lack much empathy. I can’t go too much into it without spoilers, but if you see it I think you’d agree.
As a whole I think the movie works, but I would have liked to see the world explored a little more. Clearly these characters have been through a lot but that isn’t really properly conveyed here. We do get a few brief flashbacks but nothing too substantial. Jack’s hatred for Patrick would have carried much more weight if these flashbacks were given some more thought; an extra ten minutes or so would have been beneficial in setting up the breakdown of their relationship. It would have also given their reconciliation more emotional heft.
I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for something a little different from the usual zombie movie. Like Maggie before it, Extinction puts humanity at the forefront and centres its story on its characters coping in a world that has crumbled around them. With that being the case, the idea of zombies adapting to more hostile environments seems a little tacked on. While being a neat idea, their inclusion is rather irrelevant. If they had been swapped out for the standard shambling zombies or the runners of recent years it would not have changed the movie at all.
I did enjoy Extinction but if you’re a zombie movie fan you may find the lack of action a little disappointing. And if you’re in it for the drama then the same can be said of that. But three strong performances and an intense finale knocked this up a grade. If you’re stuck for something to watch then this might be worth your while.