Directed by: Matthew Kohnen | 90 minutes | horror, comedy | Actors: Matthew Davis, Julianna Robinson, Michael Grant Terry, Betsy Beutler, Colby French, Richard Riehle, Jack Orend, Joel McCrary, Tracey Walter, Oren Skoog, Will Stiles, Michael Cornacchia, Larry Weissman, Dominque Purdy, Stephen Simon, Jon Monastero , McKay Stewart, Steve Kim, Mathew Hatchette, Tony Snegoff, Loren Dennis, Larnell Stovall, Ronald Kohnen, Kelly Hughes
In Wasting Away, the zombies that fill the screen are the result of a failed military project. A project ‘designed to create a new breed of supersoldiers’ and in which contamination takes place by ‘the toxic leftovers from a military misguided project’. The four people we meet in the beginning get some chemicals inside in a trivial way and turn into zombies within seconds. However, in a different way than might be expected. Because in “Wasting Away” they are more than just instinctively acting creatures with an eternal hunger. We see the zombies acting and talking the same way they did during their human existence… at least from their own perspective then. Also at normal speed where the living with which the zombies come into contact pass by at double speed. This is also emphasized by the alternating black and white and color images that pass by, indicating whether the events are depicted from the point of view of the zombies or from the different human characters. Human characters who, however, do regard the zombies as slow decayed around stumbling and gurgling living dead.
“Wasting Away” has a somewhat unusual, but interesting approach to the zombie genre. In this production both humor and horror are discussed. Not a horror of the chilling kind, however, because most confrontations are characterized by the lack of the traditional gory zombie biting and tearing work. Most of the special effects that pass by are also not too explicit. Various gruesome scenes are only suggested. For the hardcore zombie or horror junkie, there are not too many imaginative images in this regard. A missed opportunity, because there are plenty of horror comedies in which the most widely measured bloody scenes both serve the horror fan at his beck and call and can make you laugh. Nevertheless, there are quite a few nice images present when this and that zombie is dealt with or when the zombies themselves take someone.
The necessary humor is present, when the zombies initially do not understand exactly what has changed when they see human characters moving and talking at double speed and they are exposed to the necessary aggression. After the various confrontations have erupted, the zombies turn out to their own amazement and incomprehension to be quite insensitive to bullet hits, severed hands, decapitations and various other injuries that usually cause quite some discomfort. Over time, we will not only sympathize with the zombies but will even be on their side in various confrontations and when the army starts hunting them. “Wasting Away” is therefore an exception in the genre. Partly because we got to know them when they still passed by as human characters, but also because we stay informed about their zombie ups and downs. Director Kohnen has been successful in creating identification with the zombies.
Downsides to “Wasting Away” are, despite the fact that most of it passes at a nice pace, that the story sometimes drags on and sometimes comes to a standstill. The zombies themselves, despite their successfully rendered appearance, which are subject to decay, are not too terrifying. Although it is also the question to what extent that is feasible in a zombie comedy like this. And their behavior is not always explainable in terms of the more traditional zombies who are only too happy to put their teeth and claws in the flesh of the living when they only have good intentions and are forced to make victims by the attackers who attack them. Despite the fact that the humor is often successful enough, here and there it also comes across as bland or corny and there are various situations that lend themselves nicely to the use of varying perspectives, but in which director Kohnen falls short in this respect.
The same goes for the acting, which is of varying quality. Solid work, especially by Matthew Davis as Mike and Julianna Robinson as Vanessa. In addition, it is especially Colby French as the so-called cold-blooded wannabe zombie soldier Nick who largely steals the show. Also solid work by most of the characters that surround them, but it does not always come across as true to life or credible. The All in all, “Wasting Away” turns into a not too conspicuous, but interesting approach to the zombie genre. A film in which the necessary imperfections occur and it may also take some effort to get into the story, but which afterwards manages to hold the attention without much effort with more than enough merits.