13 Eerie weaves an eerie tale of zombie horror —
The undead genre can at times, really wear on one’s patience with one failure after another. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a zombie film where everything felt right, where the story was original and took the time to explain the origins of the outbreak and also had good overall camera and sound work for being a budget flick. Director Lowell Dean, in his first feature length film debut, has just pitched a no hitter. As a matter of fact this is the first review I’ve ever given to a film in this genre that I felt was nearly perfect, but please take into account I judge horror films against other horror films, zombie films against other zombie films and the budget always plays a key part in my overall opinion. When a group comes together and makes the absolute most out of every dollar they deserve recognition for it. I give every undead flick that surfaces a fighting chance, even if the budget is $5k, because I know from experience that eventually someone will get it right. It’s a process comparable to rummaging through a dumpster full of unlabeled DVD’s mixed with rotting food, but my love for indie films and “The power of Christ compels” me to trudge on.
The story consists of six forensic students that are transported to an abandoned prison island. They are totally cut off from the outside world so they can participate in a lifelike forensic examination of actual corpses placed strategically at specific “murder sites” by their instructor, who is also monitoring them by remote cameras & walkie-talkies. The eighth person in the group is the bus driver/cook whose pot smoking & incompetent nature leads to just enough mayhem to jump start the danger by bollixing up the communications. The walkies start to fail right around the time when one of the groups has a hair raising find, a corpse that is clearly not supposed to be there.
The acting was on point, nothing wooden or over the top. I appreciated how the film generally avoided the poor decision making in the script, something this genre is plagued by. It was of course only made possible by the convincing writing of Christian Piers Betley. The manner in which the undead are presented is slow, but deliberate and very powerful, thick skinned and not easily put down. Some may criticize this as cheap, but it was extremely effective in my opinion. They used what little they had and managed to create very menacing characters, zombies that, believe it or not, had the ability to evoke some legitimate terror for once. Plus, with a seasoned cast with the likes Katharine Isabelle, Brendan Fehr, Brendan Fletcher, Nick Moran and Jesse Moss, zombie fans that don’t require big budget effects can’t go wrong here.
Reviewed by Jim Davis