Frances Winston reviews this Irish film about zombies, and finds it comes up short.
Directed by: David Freyne – Starring: Sam Keeley, Ellen Page, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor
Horror is a tricky genre to pull off. There is always a danger that you’re going to veer the wrong side of shtick and silliness rather than scares. In the zombie sub-genre, this danger is somewhat multiplied, given the nature of the beasties featured. There’s a fine line between The Walking Dead and the Thriller video, and not everyone finds the balance.
This didn’t deter writer/director, David Freyne though, and this, his debut feature, is set in the aftermath of a world ravaged for years with a devastating virus, that turned the infected into zombie-like cannibals.
Those who have been cured of the virus are being reintegrated into society. Although most of them live in direct provision-style housing, some of them are allowed to return to their families, including Senan (Keeley) who goes to live with his sister-in-law (Page). But he struggles with the guilt of the atrocities he committed while infected, and not everyone is happy to see the formerly afflicted back on the streets, with society being hugely prejudiced against him and his kind.
This film wears it metaphors like a tattoo on its forehead. It is impossible not to see that Freyne is trying to make statement about the treatment of refugees and racism. It actually feels like it is being shoved down your throat, with absolutely no subtlety whatsoever. This really detracts from the film, as there are no little nuances to keep you engaged. Just one long hard pounding message.
The casting of Page is obviously to attract funding, but she really doesn’t work here, and seems completely out of place. There are plenty of Irish actresses who could have played this role far better, and again this really detracts from the film in general.
Keeley does a good job as the tortured Senan, but Vaughan Lawlor as his antagonist friend is completely panto-villain. To be honest, it is hard to take much of what happens here seriously, as everything feels very contrived, and some scenes almost feel as if they were shoehorned in to reinforce a point.
I am a big fan of the horror genre, but I found this pretty tedious. Even the final big set-piece, where those who are still infected take to the streets, is more like something from Carry On Zombie than any credible zombie flick.
It’s a pity, because the basic premise is good, and with some rewriting and less in your face metaphors, this could have been pretty decent. While I applaud anyone who manages to get a film made in this country, this does feel like a wasted opportunity. Definitely only a one time watch.
In Cinemas April 20th!