Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Horror Film Review

Devil's Playground (2010):  Zombie flick!  From the U.K.!  How this one slipped by under my radar I'll never know.  Whereas most zombie movies are stocked with mostly unknown actors, you'll be hard pressed not to recognize most of the players here.  I was astonished and figured such a collection of talent must translate into a kick-ass film.  Right?  Right?  Well...

It's a familiar tune:  30,000 Brits volunteer for a trial run of a new drug that's supposed to boost the mind and give the average bloke a bit more bounce in his step.  A month in, however, it's obvious to anyone with the brains God gave slugs that it's not gone well.  Suddenly, all of the volunteers are getting sick, violently so, but before the authorities can get a handle on this new health crisis, the biting begins.  And then the running and screaming and...eating. 

Cole (Craig Fairbrass from White Noise 2) is the pharmeceutical company's security chief and chief leg-breaker.  He learns from the drug's creator that one of the 30,000 did not get sick and is therefore the key to a cure.  Cole must find her and carry her to safety.  This would be Angela (MyAnna Buring from The Descent and The Descent 2).  And of course she's pregnant.  Which leads us to her cop ex-boyfriend Joe (Danny Dyer from Doghouse) who after shooting a kid, was sent to prison.  Lucky him, he gets released the morning everything goes tits up and goes to the boondocks on the edge of London to stay with his friend Rob (Sean Pertwee from Dog Doldiers).  Inevitably, everyone ends up at Rob's where a fleeing couple beg to stay.  These are Lavinia (Jaime Murray from The Deaths of Ian Stone and of Warehouse 13 fame) and Geoffrey (Shane Taylor from Band of Brothers).

The whole group decides they need to trek across town to an abandoned helicopter.  Sounds stupid but it kind of makes sense when you're watching.  Anyway, the peckish zombies give chase and most of the group end up as supper.  This not a spoiler but rather part and parcel of the genre.  One thing I should mention about the zombies:  they're very fast and in addition to morphing into mindless cannibals, they apparetnly become free runners (you know, those guys who do crazy jumps and tumbles in urban areas for reasons passing understanding).  It's jarring to see in a serious zombie flick but not overly distracting.  Just weird.  Ultimately, Devil's Playground is a combination of Children of Men and 28 Weeks Later and not as good as either.  It's an above average cast in an average zombie film.  I'd have preferred it the other way around. 


Acting:  Fairbrass is intense and engaging.  I expected more out of Dyer who plays Joe too straight.  Humor would have helped.  The rest of the cast do their job but no one really stands out.
Story:  Recycled.  We've seen it all before.  Well, except for the zombies leaping and rolling around London like circus performers. 
Direction:  Oddly uninvolving.
Production Values:  It's got a gritty texture to it common to many films from the U.K. and that helps with the realism.  Although it is low budget, it doesn't look it.  That said, there aren't enough set pieces.
Gore/FX:  Pretty low blood factor.  Lower than I expected and hoped.  The zombie FX are properly creepy and disturbing, though. 
Scares:  Not any "gotcha" jumps but a few scenes that'll get you to the edge of your seat.
Ending:  Sorry to say it's a cliche and quite boring.
Verdict:  Should you see Devil's Playground?  Fans of zombie movies should, yes.  Others, well...there are worse ways to spend your time.  Like watching the Twilight films.  Or grouting tile.

Rating:  3 out of 5


  1. I tried it and didn't even finish it. And I like cheesy horror.

  2. It's's not bad enough to be thought of as "so bad it's good" and yet not done well enough to be considered "good." That said, I've seen so many other films that are so much worse that I had to rate it the way I did. (Try sitting through Motocross Zombies From Hell sometime.)