Directed by: Nick Lyon | 87 minutes | horror | Actors: Ving Rhames, Taryn Manning, Johnny Pacar, Gary Weeks, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Eddie Steeples, Robert Blanche, Gerald Webb, Lilan Bowden, Anya Monzikova, Kimberley Ables Jindra, Ami Albea, Darryl Allen, John Alonzo, Larry Andrews
Zombies… dead dead from any cause for the sole purpose of satisfying their eternal hunger with the flesh of the living. Which, as long as they are not torn to pieces, then also turn into zombies. In ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ a virus is the cause of all calamity. Director Lyon does not waste a lot of time and shows various scenes in the opening scenes that show that there is no spice for the advancing zombie plague. A nice opening that, although it seems a bit low-budget, offers a nice and atmospheric post-apocalyptic setting for a group of survivors looking for zombie-free places.
In between all the acts, the group is expanded, but thinned just as hard when the various confrontations with the zombies arise. The data is not very original and adds little to what the average zombie fan will have seen often enough. Just like the confrontations themselves, which are not much different from those in many other zombie films. However, it is striking that these scenes, especially considering the low budget and the fact that this production was made for television, are deserving of design. Armed with all kinds of weaponry varying from pistols, rifles, chainsaws, hammers, clubs, swords and machine guns, the zombies are going wild. This results in the necessary tasty scenes: zombie limbs shot and severed, zombie heads exploding, zombie bodies that are ravaged by numerous hitting bullets or in other ways … it comes with the necessary gore to a large extent. However, what is just as striking are the inadequately designed actions of the zombies depicted in multiple degrees of narrowness (whether or not successful). Although the zombies are numerous enough and their threat is clearly present, the camera turns away when they make their victims or they are hidden from view when they are literally buried under the zombie bodies. For horror and zombie fans, keen on the bloody biting, pulling and tearing with which zombies traditionally make their victims, ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ is therefore quite disappointing. Perhaps also because this production made for television is bound by limits, but given the gore that does happen when this and that zombie goes down, it could and should have been a bit more explicit. It is therefore a missed opportunity.
In addition, at various times the not too high quality and the various doubts in the design of things are striking. The splashing, spouting and gushing blood at the various acts of violence often makes a fake CGI impression for the somewhat more observant. The howling siren that makes the zombies lose interest in their prey? Well, not an all too zombie-like fact. The zombie dog that has provided for our group of survivors and, following on from that, in terms of CGI content, almost laughably amateurishly designed, superfluous and inexplicably present – well, what exactly are they? – zombie tigers. Not too credibly designed, as are the actions that the human characters display in the confrontation with these creatures. These are things that detract from the film. They come across as laughable and undermine more than they contribute. Furthermore, the tempo is repeatedly slow, which is all the more noticeable when director Lyon does not really know how to give structure to his story.
This will also affect this production when the same situation is always presented in a different environment. The group is on the road, a horde of zombies presents itself, with the necessary too much similar shooting, hacking, sawing, stabbing and fighting some zombies, the group of survivors loses another member and after the peace has temporarily returned, the group continues on their way. With, for a change, the traditionally intermittent exploratory group discussions about their past lives and about how they should try to stay alive in this world. After a while this gets boring, it looks like a story-wise different approach. Over time, this also makes it difficult to keep attention to the same degree.
No very striking acting by the various parties involved. Its most famous appearance is Ving Rhames, who puts his zombie fighting knowledge acquired in 2004’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and 2008’s ‘Day of the Dead’ into practice here. The other cast members perform their duties adequately enough, although they do not show too much depth, as in many zombie films in which these and those are doomed in advance to serve as zombie food. This is also the reason that identification with them does not really come about, which is a condition for actual involvement with the story and its developments. It makes ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ a not too high-quality zombie work, a production that, after a nice start and with various merits, is increasingly snowed under by the shortcomings and long-windedness that predominate. Admittedly nice for the die-hard zombie fan to get a few nice moments out of it, but there is not much more than that.