Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Rezort - review

2015 (UK / Spain / Belgium)


Contains mild spoilers.

Veteran (in so much he's done it twice before, with Outpost and it's sequel) zombie film director Steve Barker's The Rezort is everything you'd want from a modern, action horror, sublimely crafted walking dead experience. An original set-up, interesting main characters that shock:horror actually show some signs of development; well-paced build up, well maintained tension, with the odd scare; and oodles and oodles of zombie mayhem, carnage and death in both intimate and more grandiose scale. So where's the but I hear you ask? Well, there was a moment a short way after the set-up and outbreak, suddenly watching a slick, contemporary highly stylised zombie narrative turn into a rather generic and formulaic run, shoot, ensign expendable dies, breathe, rinse, repeat trope, that I worried. It was a short lived concern though, and having got the group from a to b to c the things were soon back on point, for a second half, that while maybe doesn't quite live up to the seeds initially sown, nevertheless delivers on its promise, as said, of a well-crafted modern zombie experience. I've noted it didn't review that well; nor that badly, and this is perhaps it's only crime; to be in a genre that's starting to stagnate due to excess.
  
Jessica De Gouw (Arrow / NBC's Dracula) as shell shocked Melanie Gibbs heads a surprisingly strong cast, of characters that for one reason or another have turned to The Rezort for answers, some seven years after the Chromosyndrome-A pandemic decimated mankind. With two billion dead, loved ones lost and society forever changed, some seek revenge, some seek escape and some like Mel, supported by boyfriend Lewis (Martin McCann) seek closure and catharsis by coming face to face, or more accurately gun to face, with those responsible

One thing I do know though about any and all attempts to control and constrain is best summed up by Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm in that other rather more famous theme-park death-experiment. "John, the kind of control you're attempting simply is... it's not possible. If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously…" Okay, zombies aren't alive per se, but the same chaos theory still prevails. How The Rezort's CEO and caricature evil capitalist big boss Valerie Wilton (Claire Goose) thought she could make her fortune exploiting an island of undead gut-munchers (un)fortunate to find themselves the only place they weren't quashed, in spectacle and sport, without thinking at some point something might go awry is baffling. I mean, hasn't she watched Jurassic Park, West World, etc...

Dr. Ian Malcolm: "Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that's how it always starts. Then later there's running and um, screaming."

When the proverbial shit does hit the fan things turn bad with breath-taking speed and ferocity. One second a computer glitch, the next, the operative has had his lungs ripped out and is making a rather more sinister move on the second female operative one seat to the left than usual. It's full on zombie madness, bloody, brutal and a delight to watch. I'd perhaps, with a health and safety hat on, make the point, that for a billion dollar enterprise built on a rather dangerous foundation some additional isolation steps would have been expected, it still sets and steps up the action for the small group left out in the field. One thing Barker does understand is zombie carnage and as expected in 2017, with an entire industry dedicated to making them look and sound good their look and choreography is faultless.

As stated, it's once out in the field the film openly declares itself a bit of a by the numbers, honest to goodness, zombie action one. Mel and the mixed bag of survivors, now under the assumed leadership of the conveniently placed ex-military sharp-shooter Archer (Dougray Scott), they begin their dash from camp to fence to lookout post hoping to escape the island before the rest of the world responds to the alarms and razes it to the ground. 

While action and narrative can be accused of being a tad trite and stale, the same can't be said for the overall vision Barker, with writer Paul Gerstenberger has realised. In the midst of refugees and a world desperate for identity and healing, that a five star resort can pop up, primarily for the rich and bored to play God is quite relevant and cuttingly satirical. Employees inwardly sighing at the sight of rich playboys stroking their automatics and egos with all the danger and effort hidden is clever and I'm sure Romero himself would approve. 

A well-crafted, more than competently executed The Walking Dead zombie narrative that delivers exactly what it promises and I'm not sure what there is to complain about; it's one of those films one should know exactly what they're getting themselves into. Cinematically and musically the Ibiza island vibe is delightfully fresh and stylish, the zombie frolics when they get going deliver the tension, head-shots and bites when needed and the pacing is positive and fresh. Jessica, Martin and Dougray present strong individuals who interact and evolve naturally to the point I would be invested in the idea of a sequel (with those that might have survived.)  A brilliant British zombie feature, with few bells and whistles; but you know what, maybe what with all the zombie comedy satire of late, a faultlessly fashioned back to basics survival thriller is, for us true zombie fans, bloody marvellous - 7/10.

Steven@WTD.  

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