Monday, November 26, 2012

Eh, Zombies, Aaah! Zombies!! Or Wasting Away, This Is A Mediocre Zombie Comedy Film.

The Good: Smart, original concept, Decent direction
The Bad: Low-budget look and feel, Lousy character development, Mediocre acting
The Basics: Aaah! Zombies!! is a funny and original film that was not given mainstream support to succeed beyond the limitations of the script.

It always pleases me when I can still be surprised by a film. While I have no memory of wanting to see Wasting Away or, as it is called on DVD, Aaah! Zombies!!, my wife did. When she and her family went to pick up videos yesterday (when it became clear that we would not make it to see The Life Of Pi as my mother-in-law wanted to), Aaah! Zombies!! made the cut. The film, which stars no mainstream actors and is directed with the look and feel of being a film school project, is the natural, logical precursor to Zombieland (reviewed here!). Unfortunately, the script is not quite that strong and it did not surprise me when, as the movie dragged on, my wife walked out of the room to get ready for work and did not want me to pause the movie.

Aaah! Zombies!! is not a bad movie, but it is a film that utilizes a very obvious cinematic technique and once one understands it – which does not take long – the novelty wears out and the film never progresses beyond that. Instead, Aaah! Zombies!! remains mired in its one original idea, which has the perspective of the zombies presented. Flipping between the perspective of the small group of infected humans – who talk with one another as if nothing is wrong in scenes presented in vivid, real color – and the “reality” of the situation, which appears in black and white (save the bright green indicating infected foods or substances), Aaah! Zombies!! is immediately interesting, but drags on as the viewer waits for it to do more with its unique narrative technique. It never does.

Mike, Vanessa, Tim, and Cindy are friends in their twenties. For the last decade, Tim has pined for Cindy without making a move, while Mike and Vanessa broke up the year prior, but still hang out because all four are friends. When a military experiment to create a super soldier goes horribly awry, creating instead a zombie warrior, the military attempts to hide the problem, but in transporting the chemical agent, a barrel gets lost. That barrel ends up at a bowling alley where it contaminates the soft serve ice cream formula. When Mike makes beer softserve and all four of the friends consume it, they unwittingly become zombies. Able to communicate only with drunk people and other infected, the four find themselves baffled by how fast everyone around them talks and moves.

But soon, they are not alone. Nick Steele, U.S. military, arrives in the same state as them, with the belief that he has been made into a super-soldier. They believe that those around them have been infected and turned into zombies and that they might be the only four real humans left. As the four splinter off – Nick Steele trying to find the cure, Tim and Cindy going in search of Cindy’s parents and Vanessa, believing that the infection is something isolated that will blow over, taking Mike with her on a job interview – the truth comes out, the small group is progressively wounded, and Mike tries to rise to the occasion of leading the new zombies to a place they can live in peace.

Aaah! Zombies!! is not at all scary; it is a zombie comedy and it has remarkably little in the way of gore as well. In fact, for a zombie movie, it is more tame than one might otherwise expect and it has a few good lines, all of which are at the beginning. The movie seems to trade on the novelty of the black and white vs. color sections, but the more they occur, the less audacious the movie becomes. So, for example, as the bowling scene between the young people and the local drunk bowling teams goes on and Tim and Cindy begin making out, it is no surprise how weird and un-romantic the kiss will actually be. In other words, changing to the “reality” cam does nothing for the viewer; we already got the joke.

The conflict with Nick Steele vs. the military, most notably Colonel South, is mediocre at best and Steele’s escape from the military is a hard part of the film to suspend one’s disbelief through. The special effects – ranging from a false hand, decapitated head that keeps talking, and flesh falling off – are mostly lame and the film has the feel of being a b-rate horror, without being at all horrific. The result is that it ends up being a mediocre-at-best comedy that tries utilizing the same joke over and over again.

Aaah! Zombies!! features a cast of virtual unknowns. The only performer in the film I recognized was Richard Riehle as Colonel South. The mostly young cast is led by Matthew Davis and Julianna Robinson, with Michael Grant Terry, Betsy Beutler, and Colby French rounding out the group of zombies. None of them give performances that are in any way noteworthy. Instead, Beutler especially, feels like a typical Hollywood good-looking twenty-something without any specific acting talent to back up the look. Aaah! Zombies!! does not showcase anyone’s range or real depth of emotion; the acting is appropriately mundane for a film of this caliber and budget.

Presented on DVD with only a music video and a single preview, Aaah! Zombies!! is not worth adding to one’s permanent collection, despite being a marginally fun flick.

For other works with Richard Riehle, please visit my reviews of:
Office Space
“Becoming, Part I” - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
“The Inner Light” - Star Trek: The Next Generation


Check out how this film stacks up against others I have reviewed by visiting my Movie Review Index Page where the reviews are organized best to worst!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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