Review: Zombie: The Resurrection of Tim Zom (2014)

Director: Billy Pols | 72 minutes | documentary

‘Zombie: The Resurrection of Tim Zom’. It sounds like an easy attempt to catch up with the hype that has actually been behind us for a while. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not the undead who are the subject of this documentary, but it is skater Tim Zom (nickname Zombie) who gets to play the lead role. The talented Rotterdammer can be found on the streets of the Maasstad since his youth with his loyal skateboard. Despite a difficult childhood, he still gets the chance to prove himself on the highest podium. In the United States, he can show that he has left his dark past behind.

Stylistically, ‘Zombie: The Resurrection of Tim Zom’ is reminiscent of the popular skate videos of the eighties and nineties. Gritty but colorful picture quality. The momentum is good. The camera follows the skater smoothly and the assembly is fairly quick. As a result, the film is constantly in motion. The film has a subtle feel for lighting. There is hip-hop, light house and rock in support, as well as a more poetic film score. His talent is undeniably evident. But there are also a few (hard) falls. Shots of a skateboarding Zom are alternated with sensitive atmosphere shots. It all feels authentic. It is trial and error what the skater does here. A lesson that applies not only to the sport, but to his entire life. Seen in this way, skateboarding is an analogy for life itself. As a result, ‘Zombie: The Resurrection of Tim Zom’ quickly gets to the core of the essence. The camera stays close, which can make it personal. Unfortunately, this image quality is not consistent everywhere, so the message does not always get through properly.

To complete the portrait of Zom, his loved ones also have their say. From the spokesperson for sponsor Nike to his family and girlfriend. His past takes shape from this. The young Tim grew up in the deprived areas of Rotterdam. More than other cities, it is a tough world there. Street crime is rampant. There is an unbridgeable gap between young and old. Dysfunctional families cause young people to take refuge in the streets. But just like Tim Zom, it is home for many young people. However, the lure to drugs and violence is great. The charismatic personality of today was, according to his loved ones, a real kid at the time. Relations with his family are complicated. He has a great tendency to (self) destruction. From mischief to taking part in a bloody brawl, school tutoring and thefts made him a loose cannon that could explode at any moment. It took him past the abyss of Rotterdam city life. ‘Zombie: The Resurrection of Tim Zom’ shows as many of these troubles as possible. It is the street life that can be seen here. Skateboarding is his only possible way out.

He can put the aggression that Tim has in the sport. As a result, he has developed his own unique and raw style that could bring him to the top. But because of that dark past, there is great fear that he will repeat itself. Especially when the reality of Rotterdam’s deprived neighborhoods is exchanged for the supposed splendor of the United States, the land of limitless possibilities. There he is completely free. But the question is whether the lack of boundaries will stand in the way of Tim’s career. Interestingly, his style is shaped by his past, a piece of history that he tries to distance himself from.

The speed of successive shots contrasts with the slow pace of the build-up. The makers take the time to introduce freebooter Tim and are careful not to tell a story that is too sentimental. This maintains the authenticity. Tim himself does not speak much and remains fairly closed to the outside world. As a result, there is still a distance between the spectator and the idiosyncratic Zom. Through all the testimonials, the spectator thus gets a somewhat one-sided image of the skater.

‘Zombie: The Resurrection of Tim Zom’ came second in 2014 in the battle for the audience prize at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam. This will be mainly due to the home game that the skater played there. Now it is up to Zom and the film to show the rest of the world what they are really worth.


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