Director: James Plumb
Writer: James Plumb, Andrew Jones
Producer: Andrew Jones
Stars: Sule Rimi, Lee Bane, Terry Victor, Rose Granger, Kathy Saxondale, Mel Stevens, Sabrina Dickens, Sarah Louise Madison
A family in Wales barricades themselves in their home as the living dead overrun the countryside.
Using George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” as an example, a case could be made that the public at large does not reap any great benefit from a creative work falling into the public domain. For instance, since no one group has a vested interest in monetizing outright property ownership, there has never been a truly definitive Collector’s Edition DVD or Blu-ray of the much-praised zombie classic. Instead, there are dozens of quick and dirty cash-in options for owning the original film in a variety of terribly careless transfers, since anyone with access to a print can burn the film to disc and take their product to market.
Rivaling these DVD releases of the first “Living Dead” film in terms of countless numbers are the equally cheap and generic spinoffs, ripoffs, knock-offs, sequels, prequels, and reboots. Just as anyone can slap the original on a disc and sell it for profit, filmmakers are equally free to liberally use the “Night of the Living Dead” moniker to market their otherwise unrelated zombie film.
To be sure, “Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection” is not the worst offender in the lot when it comes to shameless cash-ins on a once proud franchise. It is even up for debate if adding “Night of the Living Dead” before a colon in the title is a boon or a hindrance. That goes for every indie horror film that tries associating itself with Romero’s world of the undead, not just “Resurrection.”
An opinion on one side of the aisle will proclaim that adding the tie-in guarantees an audience of “Living Dead” fans whose passion for the genre sees better judgment thrown to the wind. Logic on the other end might advise a zombie film to try standing on its own two feet instead of presumptively hitching itself to the holiest of undead holies, thereby inviting harsher criticism. In this case, the argument is moot. Whether it is “official” canon for “Night of the Living Dead” or not, “Resurrection” is still a disappointment.
“Resurrection” has several novel ideas that are overshadowed by an otherwise routine and familiar series of events. Twenty minutes into the film, “Resurrection” takes a jolting turn that puts the audience on notice and warns to expect the unexpected. It is a moment filled with promises that the movie never keeps, in addition to rendering the first 20 minutes as pointless. From that point on, the plot spirals into a ho-hum rehash of tropes risen from the graves of far better zombie films.
Gerald and his wife Karen live in the Welsh countryside with their young son Sam, their youngest daughter Mandy, and their pregnant daughter Jennifer. With them in the home is the children’s grandfather Bill and Jennifer’s husband Kevin. Despite there being seven characters barricading themselves off from the undead uprising, not one of them is particularly likeable. Anyone not busy doing something reprehensible such as killing an innocent human or berating a relative is preoccupied with a stupid idea. These stupid ideas include hoping that someone bit will not turn into a zombie and then not killing that zombie because it was once a family member. Do movies like this only exist in a world where no one has seen a zombie film? Do they not know the rules?
“Resurrection” may not even know its own rules. When the film opens, the outbreak is just beginning. People are seen going about their regular lives as teenaged hoodlums none the wiser about the looming threat of the walking dead. But by the time the central family is introduced, the kin seem to have well figured out that corpses have risen, bite wounds make more of them, and headshots are the fastest method of execution. They have deduced quite a bit during a time when others are not even up to speed on what has happened. Yet they are still optimistic that they are somehow exempt from the infection.
They are not the only ones with a peculiar grasp on the crisis. Later in the film, another group of young hooligans enters the scene. Rival human factions always present the greatest threat in the best zombie films. The instinct for self-preservation drives people to extreme actions that they never would have considered in a sane society. But with the outbreak still in its infancy, the teens in “Resurrection” act as sadistic thugs for no reason other than the thrill. Their violence is not motivated by survival, but by perverse pleasures. There is no meaningful social commentary in here other than to say these opportunistic punks are just simply having their way. For all we know, they might not even be aware that the dead are walking the earth.
An overreliance on canted angles seems intended to disorient, but feels more like the filmmakers had no better idea on how to frame various shots. A noticeable film scratch persists in the right hand side of the frame for a large portion of the film. I wondered how a 2012 film could possibly have that much consistent damage before realizing that the look was intentional. The clue was when the look amplified itself twenty times in the final reel. Looking like someone emptied a barbershop dustpan into the film gate before shooting or transferring to print, clumps of hair and giant splotches end up creating an annoying distraction instead of a retro style.
With its bold warning shot at the first act change, “Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection” has a captive audience ready for a fresh look at the genre. Instead, “Resurrection” plays it safe with a tired retread of apathetic characters slowly learning everything we already know about surviving a zombie apocalypse. The credits end with a threat/promise that “Night of the Living Dead: Revelations” is “coming soon.” Now that old and overdone is out of the way, let us collectively hope that the filmmakers can move on to something frightening and original. Or would that be as empty an ideal as dreaming that my bitten relative might be immune to a zombie infection?
Review Score: 40