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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 03.13.08] movie review short horror

Year: 2008
Director: Kristofer Velasquez
Writer: Kristofer Velasquez
Trailer: Link
Review by: Agent Orange
Rating: 6.3 out of 10

In his recent post about the upcoming low budget zombie film The Dead Walk, our founder and fearless leader quietearth, threw a relatively interesting point out there that I've often mulled over myself. With the hundreds of zombie films that are made every year by both indie and mainstream filmmakers, how on earth does the horror sub genre stay so bloody popular? And how on earth, in this sea of undead, are we able to separate the wheat from the shaff (so to speak)? I mean, sure the cream rises to the top but crap floats too right?

For me, the very best zombie films are the ones that pay strict heed to the rules laid down by the master and one true god of all things zombie, Goeorge Romero. For him, zombies were nothing more than a backdrop; a high concept set piece used as a catalyst to get a group of people together and discover what makes them tick. And while yes they are often seen as metaphors in themselves, representing the evils of everything from consumerism run amok to nationalism , stories are still often best served when the flesh eaters remain in the background and the characters are given center stage.

Enter Kristofer Velasquez, a relative newcomer whose ambitious plans and complete understanding of this concept should be scaring the heck out of his would be zombie filmmaking rivals. Attempting to channel no less than cult TV series' like The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Darkside, Deadscapes has been designed to be a series of shorts taking place in a world poised on the threshold of a zombie apocalypse. A great idea that could see Deadscapes finding future life as a compilation release or, even better, a series of broadcasts on late night tv or something.

But anyway, onto a look at this, the second installment of the ongoing Deadscapes saga...

Right away you know your in for something special or, at least, unexpected. With its crisp black & white photography and musical score that's obviously constructed as a nice homage to Carpenter's Halloween, Deascapes II makes the most of a small budget by building a nice atmosphere and introducing its principles by way of abstract montage. This puts us off balance just enough that when we finally realize that the nice shaggy haired guy asking innocently to use the nice lady's phone is a serial killer its both unsettling and intriguing. I mean when was the last time a film about zombies featured a serial killer? I can't think of one instance.

And this is where all that stuff I was talking about at the beginning of this review becomes relevant to the film. Essentially, Deadscapes II is less about zombies taking over the planet than it is about a serial killer getting the tables getting turned on him by a resourceful and kind of bitchy young woman. And this is what will ultimately make the Deadscapes series as a whole very cool. Certainly if you were a serial killer it would complicate things if your victims started coming back to life and craving your flesh.

Your probably wondering why, after all the kind words I've lavished upon Deadscapes, this second part has still received what could be considered a low rating. Well ultimately it comes down to some sub par acting and Velasquez's often clumsy handling of action sequences. As you can tell by the above screencaps, Velasquez excels at composition but a nice looking shot can only take you so far and more attention to the overall tempo of the editing and acting would have made a big difference in the film's overall impact. But, other than that, I look forward to seeing more from Velasqez and watching the Deadscapes universe grow.

Incidentally, this was originally planned as a review of both parts of the series but as the VCD I was sent of the first one didn't work in any of my various media players, I had to put it aside for now and muscle through to the second part. Luckily, while the stories take place in the same Deadscapes universe, the characters and events in each are not necessarily related.


Our previous post about the Deadscape Saga

Order the DVDs from Amazon

Deadscapes official website

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