Finally… they made a movie about zombies!
Genre vets Malcolm McDowell, Sid Haig, and li’l Corey Feldman in a zombie movie? Where do I sign up? But, can the movie live up to it’s fun and slightly inspired casting?
In post-Katrina New Orleans, residents are experiencing post traumatic stress due to the devastation brought on by the hurricane. A shady pharmaceutical organization offers up the perfect solution to all of the sadness – a new anti-depressant drug called Zombex. Unfortunately, side effects of the drug include itchy eyes, nausea, swelling, and the fact that you’ll become a zombie (but, a not-so-depressed zombie). A group of survivors must fight their way through the zombie threat to take down the corporation at fault.
I’m sad to report that, despite the somewhat inspired plot and the inclusion of some familiar faces, this one is pretty much undead on arrival. Firstly, if the names I listed above appeal to you, you shouldn’t get too excited. None of them have too much screen time (particularly Feldman) and Sid Haig, while fun to see him in military uniform on the other side of the law for once, seems a bit miscast. Things aren’t quite all bad in the casting department – McDowell, on break from his role in the much more horrific recent Sprint commercials, chews some scenery as one of the scientists and Lew Temple provides some laughs as a DJ reporting on the situation through a thick NOLA accent (other accents in the film tend to come and go – mostly go).
Much more forgivable is the fact that this movie was shot on a virtually non-existent budget. The effects are pretty shoddy, but considering what they had to work with, this can easily be looked past. There are some decent kills and a fair amount of gore and T & A, but otherwise, not much is brought to the table. Zombex delivers a bit more in the cinematography and music department, but not enough to make an impact.
What hurts the film most would have to be the script. Writer/director Jesse Dayton obviously knows his stuff and must be a horror movie fan (his direction fares much better than his writing), but the script never finds a cohesion to make us care. Several characters are introduced just be zombie fodder (not a problem in and of itself – the more fodder, the better) and there are several detours taken that seem as if they may just be there to pad the running time. These tangents can be remotely entertaining, but they go a long way towards lowering the suspense level we’ve built up for the fate of the characters.
JASON’S FINAL THOUGHTS:
A premise with promise, Zombex mostly falls flat. The concept deserves a much better take, but director Jesse Dayton does display enough potential to warrant keeping an eye out for his next one. Perhaps if given a better script, he could find more success. As it stands, the idea of disaster survivors now facing a new disaster as an indirect result of the first and the weaving of a zombie story into a real life event are intriguing, but this film just doesn’t quite cut it.
Review by Jason Howard, Film Critic