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Ulises [Celluloid 02.05.08] post apocalyptic zombies movie review

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Year: 2006
Release date: TBA
Director: David J. Francis
Writer: David J. Francis
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ulises Silva (via VeryTragicalMirth)
Rating: 4.5 out of 10

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been into zombie films. Enough where I can actually watch bad zombie flicks (e.g., Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) with the same relish that I watch good ones (e.g., the original Dawn of the Dead). In my mind, Dawn of the Dead ranks at the top of the zombie flick hierarchy, and the horrific Children of the Living Dead remains as the worst. Children of the Living Dead (CLD) remains the quintessential example of what not to do with a zombie flick. So, when I was watching Awakening: Zombie Night 2, another low-budget indie flick about, what else, zombies, I had to ask myself: is it CLD-bad? Or is it just bad?




Awakening is a post-apocalyptic zombie film taking place after a presumed viral holocaust that wipes out the population. I say ‘presumed’ because, aside from a stray newspaper that mentions mosquitoes as the cause for the rapid spread of said virus, we hear nothing about what happened. No timeline. No back story. No idea of how widespread the outbreak was. No nothing. The film launches right into its plot about two young, attractive 20-somethings trying to find sanctuary after they’re denied shelter by a group of tough guys with guns. And, as fate would have it, they run into a guy with a jeep, and the three characters (whose names are mumbled somewhere in the muffled audio, I’m sure) stumble across a marina. Among the marina’s ruins, they find zombies, an impregnable anti-zombie hold, and a female survivor. So the guy with the jeep decides to take the survivor and go get the rest of his party (three more people) so that all of them can take refuge in the marina. Or, better yet, they can fix up one of the boats and head out where there are no zombies (kind of like the end of the Dawn of the Dead remake).



But of course, not everything is smooth sailing (no pun intended). See, these guys have a problem. A big problem that promises to destroy them and their careful planning. And it’s NOT the zombies, which in an interesting twist to zombie lore, don’t come out during the day (although they begin to by movie’s end because, you know, they’ve adapted). The biggest threat our protagonists face is…the band of tough guys from the beginning. Not content to just stay put and deny people shelter, these guys go out, steal the guy’s jeep, then decide they’re going to drop in on the marina and take the boat our band of heroes are trying to fix. In essence, Awakening becomes like a turf war…with zombies thrown in.



Zombie films, including Romero’s, have often postulated that the biggest threat to our survival isn’t the zombies, but rather ourselves. That, when faced with something as terrifying and threatening as throngs of living corpses, our frail psyches will crack and turn us against each other in a desperate attempt to survive. Well, this doesn’t work in Awakening. In fact, the band of tough guys seem to be thrown in to give our protagonists their mandatory antagonists. You’d think the zombies running around would be enough of an antagonizing force. But they’re not. In fact, the zombies in Awakening are, quite possibly, the least threatening of all zombies. Don’t believe me? Then how do we explain this?

1) When the jeep guy and marina-survivor-girl are surrounded by zombies, they fight them off with sticks and a burning bra. Yes, a burning bra. Oh, and jeep guy is cracking wise even as he and the girl are surrounded.

2) When the two characters finally hook up with jeep guy’s initial party of three, and they escape the throng of zombies, they make it to their own impregnable fortress—a house. In fact, they nonchalantly trot in, close the door behind them…and that’s it. A closed door is enough to keep the zombies out. Heck, these zombies are so lame, the survivors don’t even have to board up windows. And when they’re chatting about how the zombies are adapting to light, one of them decides to ‘show them’ and proceeds to open the door. Because, clearly, what you want to do when countless zombies are waiting outside is to open the door just to prove an ill-advised point.

3) Skip ahead to the final scene, where tough guys and good guys are fighting against one another even as zombies are everywhere. One of our female protagonists and a tough, surly girl in a tight leather skirt and ripped fishnet stockings get into a cat fight. An all-out cat fight (I’m surprised they didn’t add mud)…even though zombies are, like, right next to them.

4) Same scene. One of the tough guys, a dwarf, tackles the other female protagonist out in the open. Let’s overlook the fact that she can’t throw him off, despite her being three times his size. But can you explain why the dwarf decides to start raping her, right there in the open, even though there are zombies literally five feet away?



Among the myriad of problems the film has (bad acting, a terrible audio that’s either too muffled or out of sync with the images on screen, weak plot), this has to be its biggest. How can the film ask us to fear these zombies when even the characters don’t seem to? How are we to believe these zombies have wiped out the population, even though they can’t seem to break up a cat fight or an attempted rape? How can there be any real suspense if no one in the movie seems to be at all concerned with the zombies?



The film does have its good points. The zombie makeup is quite good, and some of the post-apocalyptic images are decent (like when the band of good guys run into a man and his daughter sitting in a deserted park). And, as much as I’ve bashed the movie, I think this is one example of a film that might have benefited from an infusion of cash, capable actors, and one or two more screenplay rewrites. In fact, if just a little more common sense had been thrown into the script (like, ‘would this dwarf really start raping this girl even when there are zombies standing five feet from them?’), this might actually had been a decent flick. Not the best, but maybe like a poor man’s Land of the Dead on a smaller scale.

As it stands, though, Awakening is simply a suspense-less, ineffective zombie film. Its PA premise gets lost in its turf war set-up, and the characters’ lack of urgency or despair hardly makes the PA setting believable at all. But hey, at least Awakening is not Children of the Living Dead, which no amount of money, talent, or rewrites could have saved. So there’s that, at least.

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agentorange (6 years ago) Reply

It's got a great poster though! Perhaps not enough to recommend itself.

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Gary McDonald (6 years ago) Reply

Things only get better ... Zombie Night 3 - Reel Zombies [watch for it]!

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Magick (6 years ago) Reply

I have been looking for the movie Zombie Night 3. Is there any place that I would be able to buy this movie or anyone that i can contact? Could you please email me at magi.ck@hotmail.com

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quietearth (6 years ago) Reply

As fa as I know it's not done yet but I haven't talked to the director in a while. The website for part 3 is:

www.reelzombies.com

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magick (6 years ago) Reply

thanks quietearth... if you do hear anything could you please let me know?

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Anonymous (6 years ago) Reply

Where did you happen to get your hands on this movie?

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quietearth (6 years ago) Reply

We got it from the director.

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Sheri (6 years ago) Reply

Where did you see zombie night 2, ive been waiting for it forever since the wrap party

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deb (6 years ago) Reply

i loved the movie...zombie night 2

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pmlax31 (6 years ago) Reply

zombies, tight leather skirts, fishnet stockings, dwarfs "trying to perform sexualk acts on a 20 something coed.......whats not t like about this ? :D

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Jamie (5 years ago) Reply

Im getting frustrated! This movie was shot in my town (Deseronto Ontario) and I have been wanting a copy since it finished shooting. I can't find it anywhere though and when I ask about it I just get looked at like I have a third eye on my forehead!!!


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