Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Zoombies - review

2016 (USA)

Contains spoilers.

Zoombies is not a good film. In fact I'd be happy to argue that it's possibly the worst film I've looked at with a lazy nonsensical story, laughably bad effects and a general eye for detail Ed Wood would have been proud of. The Asylum are certainly setting themselves up as a modern day Troma willing to churn out any and all audaciously ridiculous idea as cheaply and amateurishly as possible. Actually that's not quite accurate and a little disingenuous to Troma; with Troma one at least feels there's some passion and pride in the all stupidity. With The Asylum one increasingly feels that not giving a damn is part of the process and that somehow actually not going to any lengths to hide production incompetence is best practice. One can also argue however, that you know exactly what you're getting when you sit down with a The Asylum 'straight to DVD'. For as bad as it will be, and it will be, just perhaps there's a small part of you that will embrace the chaos; will laugh as earnest actors sincerely try to make it work; and as a viewing party, as The Asylum films are not meant to be watched unaccompanied; support will be required; savour each and every new unashamedly cheap and awful idea and its delivery.

Everything you need to know about director Glenn Miller's Zoombies is delivered in the first ten minutes. There's an unopened zoo, some plucky kids on a zoology college internship, some earnest staff lead by Dr. Ellen Rogers (Kim Nielson), a man in a gorilla suit and some unknown highly contagious inter-species zombie virus. Let hilarity commence. Not that it probably matters but there's no real attempt at making the outbreak coherent or logical; some monkeys are sick, one has seizure, goes into cardiac arrest is given some epinephrine or something and comes back to life (we know this as the heart monitor that was never on the monkey starts beeping) as a rabid homicidal little shit on the extreme offensive. It's to the point, visceral and entertaining, if for all the wrongs reasons. Things soon escalate, as is the zombie way, with the addition of five or so other monkeys released from their cages and also inexplicably infected; there's screaming, killing and copious quantities of awfully fake CG blood and before you can say Sharknado 5, zoo security respond to the alarm, break the carefully controlled quarantine and let the carnage spill out to the rest of the zoo.

The film ultimately becomes one of cat and mouse; or what-ever painfully awful CG or prosthetic zombie animal insanity all involved best thought should drive the next round of hiding, screaming and falling over, and an ever-decreasing number of exaggerated disparate ill-suited Jurassic Park-esque survivors. There is an attempt at a larger narrative; of saving the world by stopping virus from reaching the aviary but this just leads to more confusion and head scratching; as wouldn't there be native birds around the park? And also I thought for a moment there would be some deeper narrative with the trio of Dr. Ellen Rogers, her daughter Thea (La La Nestor) and Kifo the Cross River Gorilla comically performed by Ivan Djurovic and some possible cure or empathetic break-through but any and all notions here were quickly dropped. In many ways Zoombies once it got going played it remarkably safe and dare I say, especially in the second half a tad derivative. Always silly, but always a tad lazy and obvious.

As said, if I was to stop, dissect and critique the film in any coherent or meaningful way things would soon turn ugly. Each and every scene always had one moment that flied in the face of logic and reason, and there were so many jaw dropping moments of disruptive cohesion with one scene directly contradicting the one before, that it would be easy to dismiss the whole thing as insulting and farcical. Even the virus itself asks more questions than it answers; like why it should be able to so quickly and virulently transfer between such differing species, yet leave humans unaffected? As I say though, looking at the film this way is nothing but an exercise in frustration and futility, though maybe there's another.

Sure it's laughably bad, sure it has CG effects that make your eyes bleed and a story that falls apart as soon as you give it any thought, but you know what; throughout the film I increasingly found myself looking forward to the next comedy star-trek bridge fall or unbelievable zombie animal. Whether it was the hilarious glass tapping parrots, the preposterous gorilla, the CG elephant ride, or even the intern falling hundreds of feet to his large explosive death; Miller does manage to somehow tap into that so bad it's good experience that it's almost impossible not to find some enjoyment. Also the main actors do a commendable job, able to not only retain straight faces but actually make the audience believe in them and give a damn as they face down each increasingly absurd situation. Look, I'm never going to say Zoombies is a good film, nor one I'd even recommend, but as a throwaway frivolous extremely silly and self-deprecating beer fuelled party flick perhaps there's enough to warrant a look - 4/10.


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