is a local beauty queen in Berkley, a small fishing community.
When the bank repossesses the farm she grew up on, she decides
to leave town for pastures new. However, a meteorite shower
hits the town, spreading a virus which effectively turns the
victims affected by the impact into undead zombies. She finds
sanctuary in an isolated farmhouse, only to discover it is
the home of the local crazy man, Marion. A pregnant woman
and her partner, as well as two cops, are also trapped in
the house when it comes under siege by infected people. Under
the cool leadership of Marion, who used to run an armoury
store, they attempt to flee the town, only to find it is completely
encircled by an impenetrable dark wall. It seems that aliens
are somehow responsible for the plague, but could the survivors
possibly be misinterpreting their intentions?...
When I first sat down to this film I quickly realised it was
nothing but a clichéd second-rate zombie flick trying
to ride on the back of the success of Shaun of the Dead.
Let's look at the clues: a beauty queen who is forced by circumstances
to turn tough, a somewhat quiet and aloof but perfect anti-hero
(Clint Eastwood's Stranger, anyone?), a policeman who tries
to exert his authority but is out of his depth, and a rookie
cop scared witless by anything that moves. The thought of
zombies grunting and groaning in Australian accents would
have been the final straw. But then a strange thing happened.
The movie started to grow on me.
I obviously realised this was supposed to be a dark comedy
as well as horror, I began to realise that the clichés
had been purposefully inserted. But that wasn't quite enough;
it was necessary to get past the first 20 minutes of familiar
zombie territory before beginning to enjoy the other aspects
of the plot. There is a brief back-story, and we get a are-they-good,
are-they-bad element to the alien presence, which exerts its
influence whilst the main cast is actively involved in fighting-off
are some genuinely funny moments too. Marion being attacked
by zombie fish is great, as is one alien telling another to
put its clothes back on, and receiving the reply, "I'm comfortable
with who I am." And then there's the light plane hitting bodies
which are hanging in the air.
Spierig Brothers, who wrote, produced and directed the film,
had apparently tried for several years to get this project
off the ground, ever since they made three short films in
a similar vein. The "Making of" documentary explains that
this was an extremely low-budget movie. The brothers sold
their car to help finance it, and transported their equipment
in the same van the main characters use in an attempt to flee
Berkeley. They couldn't afford a green-screen and so used
a curtain instead. Ninety-five percent of the visual effects
were completed by the Brothers on a Pentium III 600 computer,
which crashed several times every day. I don't know how much
of this is true, but it makes for a good story. Whatever the
background, the effects look perfectly fine to me, and even
bear close scrutiny.
If the film was so low budget, how is it that so much behind-the-scenes
footage was shot? I shouldn't knock it though, because for
a single disc this has plenty of extras. The aforementioned
Making of, two commentaries, a zombie Internet featurette,
the Toronto Film Festival screening, Camera and Make-up tests,
Homemade Dolly Construction video, an interesting Animatic
to Film Comparison, Deleted Scenes, Trailers, Production Notes,
Artwork and Design, and Biographies. Nice packaging again
too from Anchor Bay.
is no Night of the Living Dead or The Evil Dead,
or even Shaun of the Dead. But you do reach the end
knowing you've enjoyed a decent film, well made.
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