Studio: Eagle One Media
Director: Cristian Toledo, Lucio A. Rojas
Writer: Cristian Toledo, Lucio A. Rojas
Producer: Cristian Toledo, Lucio A. Rojas
Stars: Cristian Ramos, Guillermo Alfaro, Pablo Tournelle, Pamela Rojas
A team of mercenaries escorts a scientist into an infected zone as they investigate the source of a deadly zombie outbreak.
It makes sense that Cristian Toledo and Lucio A. Rojas are the writers, directors, and producers of “Zombie Dawn” because it is difficult to imagine them being able to get anyone other than themselves interested in their project. That includes cast, crew, financiers, and especially the audience.
An overlong pre-credits prologue, which takes up nine minutes of a movie only 77 minutes long to begin with, is the first clue that “Zombie Dawn” consists of flattened filler stretched thin over a frail skeleton of a setup. For that first nine minutes, mediocre apocalyptic panic ensues as assault rifles fire at reanimated corpses and two parents struggle to protect their infant daughter from the encircling madness. It is a long way to go for a “born on the battlefield” origin of strange hands plucking the baby from a seemingly doomed fate before a “15 Years Later” card moves things forward.
Colonel Rainoff provides the film’s war journal style first-person narration, framing scenes unnecessarily with long-winded pretension attempting to add weight when the story and action have none. Like an overwritten dustbowl drama, Rainoff rambles tripe such as, “man is already an abomination of himself. This is why we have no place on Earth or in heaven. It has become necessary to create a hell for ourselves, and when the time comes… we’ll all be there, waiting for the gates to open for us.” George A. Romero was far more to the point when he succinctly said, “when there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”
“Zombie Dawn” is a pale shadow of every undead epic that has already come before it. The pot is peppered with the usual ingredients of suspicious survivors, stir-crazy soldiers, and frustrated scientists begrudgingly in league with jaded military men. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. The script is an A to B plotline of a shady corporation contracting mercenaries to extract patient zero from an infected zone. An already bland idea for a story is made even more so by the fact that it isn’t even original.
Military platoons are problematic as protagonists in apocalypse-set stories. They are best left to ancillary support such as in “Day of the Dead” or “28 Days Later.” Viewers simply cannot relate to well-armed, well-trained soldiers prone to chest bumping, rape, and unjustly aggressive behavior. A ship may as well not even leave the dock lest it be sunk from the get go when an audience has no one similar to them to relate with.
Just because you have access to a digital camera and a few people willing to put themselves in front of and behind it doesn’t mean you should immediately turn it on and make a movie. A film such as “The Battery” (review here), which is both entertaining and original as a micro-budget zombie feature, shows that even with very little money, effective results can be achieved through a thoughtful screenplay and careful application of cinematic technique.
In the overcrowded sub-genre of zombie horror, there has to be something unique about another routine film for anyone to willingly look past clichés, recycled concepts, and low-budget production value. “Zombie Dawn” has nothing of note to offer, not even a visible enthusiasm to overcome its tired trappings and uninspired design.
The infected humans are as plain as zombies can be. Dressed in plainclothes Iron Maiden t-shirts and gargling mouthfuls of stage blood, they evoke as much fright as a dust bunny. Shabby digital blood bursts are somewhat smoothed with conspicuous smoke clouds accompanying all animated gunfire, making for visual effects that are not as horrible as they could be, but not exactly passable quality either.
Roping everything together, “Zombie Dawn” is another forgettable undead uprising snoozefest with poor production quality and no imagination. Other than the aforementioned Mssrs. Toledo and Rojas, I can’t think of anyone who would want to intentionally seek this one out as a genre film worth watching.
Review Score: 30