Sunday, September 12, 2010

Horror Film Review...

Ninjas vs. Zombies (2008): When I see a title like this, I think one of two things - this movie is going to suck some serious ass or be a hoot. Well, it's both and neither. First of all, the filmmakers are truly dedicated to creating a horror movie in the same vein as Evil Dead. They almost made it.

To be kind, the plot is...unique. Randall uses a book of magic in an attempt to bring back his dead brother, Eric. It works but not the way he expected. Yep. Eric crawls out of his grave and heads for the nearest teen house party. That's when all zombie movie rules start getting broken. First, Eric is intelligent and talks and decides to create a zombie army. How, you might ask? Via some kind of magic like his brother used, Eric sucks out the hapless teen's soul and leaves a drooling zombie jonesing for a human snack. Once Randall realizes what he's done, he consults the magic book, which seems to be alive in the form of a little girl who Randall visits in an odd, dream-like sequence. This girl (who's a hoot, by the way) informs Randall he needs to use ninjas to battle the zombies. Why ninjas? Why not, is the answer. Sure. Makes sense. So Randall's three best friends: Kyle, the loser pizza delivery guy (he's a hoot); Cole, the frustrated cartoonist guy; and Fitz the married guy are tapped. These guys wake up the next day to discover they have some newfound skills, and are then finally told what's going on and what they have to do - defeat a zombie army and kill its leader, Eric. They take if fairly well.

Still with me? Okay. To be fair, this movie is super low budget and doesn't pretend to be something it's not. That said, there are still a few problems. I think what bugged me the most was the lighting. It could have been the film stock, I suppose, but I don't think so. Interior shots aren't too bad, but most of the daytime outdoor shots are too dark and grainy. That worked for Night of the Living Dead, but is a liability here. The sound is mostly ok, however the soundtrack is choppy. Example: some fight sequences contain action music while others do not. It's strange, but watching guys have a sword fight without background music is jarring. The final major issue for me was the zombie make-up. Kinda cheesy. Honestly, this movie would have been much better if it were in black and white.


Acting:   Not great. Randall and Cole are like pieces of wood and get annoying. Kyle's the comedy relief and does a good job. The rest are mediocre.
Story:   Interesting idea and they do make it work for the most part if you ignore the massive gaps in logic and common sense.
Direction:   Things keep moving along in an orderly fashion and there is some genuine suspense. Special Effects:  The scenes with magic sequences are surprising in that they're quite professional looking. Not sure if it's CGI or how they did it.
Gore:   Silly and not enough. Really, if you're going to behead a zombie, theye should at least be some splatter. And if a zombie is going to munch on someone, a disembowlment shot or two shouldn't be too much to ask.
The Ending:   Not bad. They do make it clear that this is the first film in a series. The next? Ninjas vs. Vampires
The Verdict:  Should you watch it? That's a tough one. You would really need to go into it with low expectations to not be disappointed. But if cheap, B-grade horror is your thing, I'd say give it a shot. To its credit, it did make me laugh out loud more than once. For that alone, I'd recommend it.

My Rating:  2 out of 5

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