Zombie Resurrection – UK, 2014

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‘Prey for salvation’

Zombie Resurrection is a 2014 British horror feature film written and directed by Jake Hawkins and Andy Phelps. The movie stars Eric Colvin, Jim Sweeney and Danny Brown.

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Review:

Fifteen months after zombies ravaged the country, eight survivors trudge through the British woodland attempting to find a place of refuge known as Imperium, the destination known only by one of their number, the upper class Major Gibson (Joe Rainbow, Stag Night of the Dead), who revels in the hold he has over the others. These include Mac (Jim Sweeney), a sweary Scottish tough guy; God-fearing Esther (Shamiso Mushambi); almost respectably middle-class Beaumont (Danny Brown), who carries a golf club just to make sure you’ve “got it”, and the shackled prisoner Dr. Sykes (Eric Colvin), plus three more utterly detestable individuals.

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In a twist to the usual lore surrounding zombie outbreaks, we learn that time has taken its toll on the dead, who are now few in number and those who do survive are ineffective decaying lumps.

Regardless, the disagreeable bunch of the living find getting on with one another impossible and tensions rise even further when Gibson steps in a mantrap and has his leg removed. Taking shelter in a school building (expanding the quite obviously tiny shooting area by up to twenty feet), we find that Sykes is held as a prisoner due to his role in the development of the ‘virus’ which started the apocalypse – actually an attempted cure for chemical warfare – and that he is due to be hanged.

Events spiral out of their control when they realise the building actually houses some unexpectedly spritely zombies and, even more surprisingly, that one of them has a quasi-religious gift for resurrecting the more decayed of his number, threatening to send them back to the early days of the outbreak.

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On the plus side, there are some interesting ideas here; the diminished threat of rotting corpses over time has been touched upon in film and fiction before but, in this case, it’s central to the plot; similarly, aside from voodoo, there hasn’t been a great deal of emphasis on religion’s part in such a scenario. Unfortunately, these really only become viable as part of a short story – at a push, a play, though presumably a rubbish one.

Without zombies as an immediate threat, you have to rely on the living characters and their back-stories to provide the drama and tension, done skilfully in periods of Romero’s early zombie films and large tracts of The Walking Dead comic and television series. You’d be correct in assuming this film has none of that.

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Firstly, there are far too many characters, none of whom are engaging or illicit any sympathy from the viewer. This is exacerbated by the fact that the acting is of a shockingly poor quality, veering from potty-mouthed shouting to something that resembles the farce of a drunken person assuring assembled onlookers that they’re completely sober, whilst stood in a duck-pond. This sits particularly badly when the closing quarter of Zombie Resurrection attempts to ponder the complexities of life, religion and all points between, with the film left hanging as neither fish nor fowl, though almost certainly, foul.

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The gore effects and make-up are passable and indeed, if that sends your pulse racing, you may still find something of interest here. Despite this, at no point is anything in the least believable; how a compound came to be called Imperium in just over a year (surely rejected even by eager Apprentice candidates), why the filmmakers opted to omit someone in a wheelchair from their parade of abysmal stereotypes and why, four years after filming wrapped, has this been allowed to surface without anyone having the guts to recognise this simply didn’t work.

Sadly, Zombie Resurrection is another nail in the coffin of a horror sub-genre that just won’t stay shut.

Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

“In this day and age one tends to have low expectations for zombie pictures, especially if they have such seemingly generic titles. Consequently, when one encounters a well-written, well-directed, well-produced feature with some original ideas, interesting characters and a solid mixture of fun and thrills, it’s a pleasant surprise.” MJ Simpson, Cult films and the people who make them

“Having waited till the final third of this otherwise largely pedestrian affair to introduce their ‘resurrection’ theme, first-time co-directors/writers Phelps and Hawkins do little with it before crow baring in a seemingly hurried conclusion which literally nails it’s metaphor to the wall in a botched attempt to inject a dose of gravitas into the otherwise supposedly blackly comic proceedings.” Paul Worts, Fleapits and Picture Palaces

“The make up and prosthetic FX are amazing for this indie feature and really capture the decay of a human body […] Despite some pacing issues, Zombie Resurrection succeeds as a black comedy, fuelled by blood-splattered visual gags and expletive ridden humour…” Horror Cult Films

“Yes ZR has a few flaws but overwhelmingly the positives massively outweigh the (few) negatives. Great practical FX, a unique premise, stunning sets and some damn funny/bloody moments mean that Zombie Resurrection can hold it’s head well above the majority of modern zombie films and it is a feature that is well worth checking out.” Andy Deen, UK Horror Scene

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The opinions and views expressed by individual writers and reviewers are not necessarily the same as those held by the editor and owner of MOVIES and MANIA.

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