Sunday, February 12, 2012

Horror Film Review

Die and Let Live (2006):  Zombie flick!  Er...well...hmm.  So, it's a zombie movie, like I said, but only in the strictest sense of the term.  There are actors, some sets, lighting, and sound.  "Actors" may be a bit of a stretch, come to think of it.  There are friends and family of the filmmakers who speak lines in the film.  Low budget?  Let me put it this way:  give me the change under your couch cushions and I'll make a better film.  Thing is, as bad as it is (and it's bad), it has some intangible quality that keeps me from hating it.  And trust me, I so want to hate it.

The premise is...I was going to say stupid, but what zombie movie premise has ever been the product of a Mensa think tank?  A pharmaceutical company's drug test goes just slightly wrong.  Voila!  Walking dead.  That's later, though.  First, we must deal with best friends Benny (Josh Lively) and Smalls (Zane Crosby) and their plan to get Benny together with Stephanie (Sarah Bauer), the girl he's crushing on.  They throw a party, invite people like Squints (Jordan Hess), their Asian friend who inexplicably wears swim trunks and a life jacket for most of the film.  Of course, it turns out Stephanie doesn't like Benny and when Benny figures out he really likes the girl who's always wanted him, she's moved on.  All of this Dawson's Creek crap becomes moot in a big damn hurry, though, because zombie carnage finally begins. 

The zombies turned out all right; however, the problem I have is that they're the slow-moving kind and instead of simply walking away or pushing them down, the victims just stand there and wait to be bitten.  And the zombies are about as menacing as geriatric gerbils.  Also, if the filmmakers had read Bruce Campbell's book which details how The Evil Dead was made, they would have known how to make their fake blood not look so fake (it's that one drop of blue food coloring that does the trick).

This movie tries very hard to be funny.  Occasionally, it succeeds.  I think that's the intangible I mentioned earlier.  Die and Let Live doesn't take itself seriously, and by not doing so, you can forgive a great many sins.  Many, but not all.  For me, the most unforgivable sin is bad acting.  Hack writing, poor direction, and even laughable FX can be balanced by excellent performances.  This film, as you can probably tell, is severely unbalanced.


Acting:  I just saw a dog food commercial with performances that are Oscar-worthy in comparison.  Crosby as Smalls shouts his lines and tries his best to be Jonah Hill from Superbad.  He fails spectacularly.  Lively as Benny, thank God, doesn't attempt to be Michael Cera. 
Story:  Been there, done that...don't want to go there again.
Direction:  Um...not that I could tell.
Production Values:  I will award points for not shooting on video.  Otherwise, the sound is spotty, the sets cheaper than a Hollywood Boulevard hooker at 4:00 am, and the props surely were the result of a Goodwill rummage. 
Gore/FX:  Since they were going for humor, the blood and guts should have been more over the top.  Despite one severed arm and a partial disembowelment, the gore is pretty boring. 
Scares:  Not a single one. 
Ending:  Benny sitting down and eating pizza.  Yeah, everyone's either dead or infected.  Including Benny.  From a literary standpoint, the climax is flawed and unsatisfying.  From a horror fan's standpoint, it's stupid.
Verdict:  Should you see Die and Let Live?  Only, and I mean only if you're a super-duper zombie geek.  And even then, don't pay more than a buck for it. 

My Rating:  2 out of 5 stars.

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