Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Zombie Hood - review

2013 (UK)

Contains spoilers.

Director / writer Steve Best certainly knows how to fashion an extremely good and stylish zombie cinematic experience. Full of tension, imbued with hopelessness and with arteries a plenty ready to be ripped open by well thought out, coherent believable gut munchers there's plenty to commend; especially given the extreme budget. I'm always ready to be somewhat lenient with amateur productions, especially those of a UK origin. For all the good acting performances there will always be times where someone, or some sequence will come across as less than convincing. Special effects need to be tempered somewhat and there's always the possibility that scenes that should really be cut end up being left in just because they were shot and there's no time for something else. Yes all this is applicable to Zombie Hood and no, it doesn't detract from what is an earnest attempt at a serious traditional zombie survival story; but, and it's unfortunately quite a big but, its main problem is not encompassing all the aforementioned zombie carnage in a good honest narrative.

It all starts well. Actually it all starts extremely well. Best is quite the cinematic artist and the myriad of distinct scenes that help set up the apocalypse are imaginative, stylish, shocking and constantly well put together. The crowded Nottingham nightclub makes an effective ground zero, though it reminded me somewhat of the opening sequence from Blade, and the no nonsense introduction of our undead friends is tenacious, vicious and commendable without excess dalliance. There's a great zombie attacking a girl in a bath scene, there's plenty of carnage and panic, lots of blood and guts and though I soon came to realise the survivors who were to be our main focus were going to be another deplorable set of morally deplete forgettables, as I watched them escape the city I was still enjoying myself.

Now I can understand with the world falling all around that running around like a headless chicken may be unavoidable, for a time, but really, that's all Best seems to be able to envisage the rag tag miscreant band are capable of once out of immediate danger and surrounded by trees. Whether it's Rik (Richard Lee O'Donnell) with his incessant need to goof about, make small talk and eat crisps, Sam (Tom Murton) the token bad boy gleeful in the groups misfortunes, or old Bill (Harry Keeling) and his ever ready bag of Werther's Originals, none of the group seem able to come up with any kind of plan other than to wander around in circles. The group stumble from car to pub to forest, to car, to forest, to car back to forest without I'm guessing much more of an idea why, than Best did when an hour into writing / film production he realised he needed another thirty minutes to fill. It's all a bit a shame really as he is an undoubted talent and when focused on what on what works; blood, gore, tension and its scene construction the film shines.

The white eyed, pale skinned, snarling death muchers of Zombie Hood are well crafted Romero / Boyle modern infected. A tag, you're it, you die, you come straight back up, and the person you once were is gone and you're ready to get started on your new cannibal way of unlife. There's some ambiguous insinuation that when freshly turned the dead are fast, almost Boyle 28 Days Later fast, and as the body adjusts to death they slow down to a Romero gait. It's a new idea and one I could get behind; but other than that, and the confidence / audacity / bad-taste to include a lot of children, it's really what we've come to expect. Best has done a great job with makeup, making sure the zombie extras behaviour is uniform and coherent, and what the film lacks in effects budget he more than makes up for with intelligent, highly stylised off camera, blurred and implied sequences that still pack a punch.

With only a purported seven thousand pounds to play with Best has worked wonders putting together an earnest somewhat convincing medley of ideas and scenes that works as a celebration of the modern zombie zeitgeist. The great start is let down with a pretty drab and meandering last two thirds but it never fully unravels, maintaining its semi-interesting survival sub-narrative. However without any attempt at fashioning a focused narrative spine and without any real character development to speak of, the film really just runs out of steam; its blistering sprint start ending with a rather limp and lifeless stumble way too early. Certainly above average, it's an amateur zombie endeavour well worth watching and supporting, and if it could only have sustained its heady take-off could have been right up there, 5/10.



  1. LOL this just looks so bad. I've avoided seeing it. I plan on having a night where I catch up on all the terrible films I've missed and have some friends over for laughs. I'll save this movie for that time. Great review.

    1. Cheers. It's not the worst film I've seen and has some great zombie mauls, it just fails to really hold together in any way.