Saturday, 28 March 2015

ZOMBIE RESURRECTION

Directed by Andy Phelps and Jake Hawkins, Starring: Eric Colvin, Jim Sweeney, Danny Brown, Horror, UK, 2011, 83mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD on 23rd March 2015 by Left Films.

George A. Romero has a lot to answer for. Actually that’s unfair. The current source of this never-ending infestation of zombie films should really be attributed back to AMC’s The WALKING DEAD. Case in point: ZOMBIE RESURRECTION. Although principal photography was completed back in 2011, I’m guessing this low-budget British entry into the gut-munching glut is only now seeing the light of day thanks to the success of that TV show. And whilst it teases to promise an original idea on the overly-familiar sub-genre tropes of zombification, it fails to capitalise on this concept leaving behind a fairly uninspiring trail of half-digested offal in its wake.

A vaccine against biological warfare incubates into a pathogen which brings about the zombie apocalypse. On infection day 458, a mixed-bag of eight survivors are being led across the ‘badlands’ (leafy British woodland), seeking refuge in the nearest uninfected hub. One of the group, ‘Sykes’, is a prisoner being escorted to his execution for being on the team responsible for unwittingly creating the plague. His military escorts are Major ‘Gibson’ (completely out of his depth and a complete arsehole to boot) and ‘Mac’, a gritty hardened combat veteran. The rest of the party are made up of broadly drawn soap opera-type caricatures such as Jade Colucci’s gobby Chav ‘Harden’ (channelling EASTENDERS Jessie Wallace); a golf-obsessed father and his innocent sixteen year-old daughter (played by an actress of 23); an idealistic university graduate named ‘Ghadhi’ (honestly); and a heavily pregnant, heavily religious mum-to-be.  

After several half-hearted skirmishes with the rotting and severely malnourished dead (during which ‘Major Gibson’ still manages to end up losing half a leg due to ‘Mac’s’ emergency machete amputation), the group escape to the seeming safety of an apparently abandoned school. It isn’t on either count.

The major selling point of ZOMBIE RESURRECTION is the idea there’s some kind of Messiah figure bringing the living dead back to living life by his touch, or as ‘Ghandhi’ puts it: “Jesus! Back from the back from the dead!” Erm, quite. Slight snag though (and no giggling at the back) as soon as a zombie is resurrected back to life they’re instantly seen as dinner for the remaining hordes and are promptly devoured before being resurrected again in a seemingly endless and downright disheartening cycle of death; rebirth; devoured death; rebirth...ad nauseam, ad nausea. (Is he the Messiah – or is he just a very naughty boy?)

Having waited till the final third of this otherwise largely pedestrian affair to introduce their ‘resurrection’ theme, first-time co-directors/writers Phelps and Hawkins do little with it before crow baring in a seemingly hurried conclusion which literally nails it’s metaphor to the wall in a botched attempt to inject a dose of gravitas into the otherwise supposedly blackly comic proceedings.

The initial decaying zombie prosthetics are nicely done before the generic ‘ripes’ (the fresher 28 DAYS LATER-type running gut-munchers) take over with their minimal make-ups and contacts.

It’s not every day a pregnant women is punched in the face and called a c#nt – but it’s fairly indicative of the script the cast are given to chew on. 

Tough-guy soldier ‘Mac’ hauls on his shoulders a massive rotting blanket of animal pelts which he affectionately calls ‘Bessie’. The makers of ZOMBIE RESURRECTION on the other hand carry on their shoulders the combined weight of countless rotten zombie films which have come before them - and this in the end leaves them with an insurmountable burden to breathe new life into an exhausted sub-genre long-since past resurrection. 
  
Extras: Making of featurette, trailers.

**(out of 5)

Paul Worts