Saturday, December 1, 2012

Horror Film Review

Dead Season (2012):  Zombie flick!  There is a caveat here.  It's mostly just a rip off of AMC's excellent TV show The Walking Dead and the movie Dawn of the Dead.  The original ideas the filmmakers did have are weird and don't work.  Nevertheless, I can't help but like it a little.  There's a...texture to it I find interesting and oddly alluring. 

The world's gone to hell and only a handful of survivors remain, one of whom is Elvis (Scott Peat).  This guy looks a little too much like Rick from The Walking Dead, by the way.  He's making his way down the east coast to Florida where a buddy has a boat waiting to take him to an island.  Elvis hooks up with fellow ham radio enthusiast Tweeter (Marissa Merrill) who has a 10 year-old boy in tow.  On the boat, the kid gets bitten and Elvis puts a bullet in his pre-pubescent head.  Lovely.  The island is run by tough guy Kurt Conrad (James Burns).  Elvis and Tweeter are accepted only because they are useful.  Elvis is an EMT and Tweeter can fight.  Elvis soon discovers what happens to new arrivals who are not useful and even takes part in the...procedure.  Well, that jerky had to come from somewhere, I suppose.  After fending off a rape attempt, Tweeter decides to leave the island along with Conrad's daughter Rachel (Corsica Wilson) who has been locked up for her own safety for months.  Elvis shakes off his new found darkness and joins them in their climactic dash for the boat moored in the harbor.  They make it, but where are they going?  No idea.  Will you care?  I didn't.

The first part of this film had promise, that texture I previously mentioned.  Then they killed the kid.  It wasn't necessary.  More than that, it was gratuitous and manipulative.  Why?  Because nothing that happens later is tied back to it.  The cannibalism part was also inserted for simple shock value, but in this case, it at least has some logic behind it since all natural food sources were also affected by what caused the zombie plague.  I think they were shooting for realism with this movie.  I don't watch movies for realism.  Movies are made to escape reality.  The evening news is depressing enough.


Acting:  Peat is kind of flaky.  Merrill is flighty.  Wilson is whiny.  And Burns is hammy.
Story:  A few tweaks to an old standard doesn't work as well as you might think.
Direction:  The pre-island parts are engaging.  The rest feels like something from the SyFy channel.
Production Values:  They were trying for realism and mostly succeeded.  I don't have a dollar amount for the budget, but it couldn't have been terribly high.  The main filming location was Burbank, CA.  That should be a clue.
Gore/FX:  Plenty of blood and related gross stuff.  If there was CGI, I can't remember it.  The zombie make-up is decent.
Scares:  Yeah.  One.  Damn near made me ruin my easy chair.
Ending:  Boat leaving a dock.  No extra "gotcha" shots as most horror flicks do at the end.  Gotta respect that.  Although it didn't make me like the ending, which is oddly boring.
Verdict:  Should you see Dead Season?  I'm torn.  I think other horror fans will like it more than I did, so on that basis, I'll recommend it.  They shouldn't have killed the kid.

Rating:  2.5 out of 5

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