Rated: NR (Contains violence, strong language)
Starring: Ione Butler, Andrew Asper, Marcus Anderson, and Kim Nielson
Synopsis: When a strange virus quickly spreads through a safari park and turns all the zoo animals undead, those left in the park must stop the creatures before they escape and zombify the whole city. [Official synopsis]
A. Zombie Reviews . . . Zoombies
By A. Zombie
The Asylum stepped into some large footprints when they opted to take a zombie film and set it in a Jurassic Park situation. They went for broke, too, holding nothing back when it came to zombie gags, perfectly placed irony, and an attempt to tell a coherent story through most of the film. It really held in there until they’d killed off so many characters, the hero, Ellen, basically had to say, “Forget everyone, I’ll do it myself.” Which still fits the theme laid out in just about every dino-flick when women finally have enough dying and get things done. There’s the usual parallels—mocking the infamous t-rex chase with infected lions, one character ditching the others and running, children coping way better than adults about man-eating animals, etc.—which make the film tolerable. The plot is simple, characters are just deep enough to provide tension, and the sense of funny-wrong doesn’t miss the mark. While there are times where plot points are dragged out for too long, it’s not so bad it bogs down the 90-minute format.
The easiest way to get to know characters where all your effort on a film is spent figuring the logistics of zombie apes is to trap them in vehicles throughout the three acts to do info dumps. It isn’t ideal, but for films like this, it isn’t about the characters so much as putting characters in outlandish situations to see if stereotype personalities will make it out alive. This movie has an okay mix of decent characters and some which needed serious reconfiguring just so fans don’t spitefully throw a beer at the screen when they finally shut up and die. Even Ellen, who we are supposed to like in the end, has character traits which can just stop happening in everything always forevermore, especially her need to repeat how much she feels she’s failing a dead guy. Family obligation isn’t the only reason a wealthy woman would show remorse for So Many Dead People.
The other main characters are the zombie animals. As with all Asylum features, don’t place your bets on being blown away by the computer graphics. There’s a few great shots featuring the lead gorilla character, reaction shots for smaller zombie monkeys, but for the most part the undead characters are blurry and laughable. When the zombie giraffes stepped on screen, I gave up and laughed through the entire thing. It’d take Marvel-sized budgeting to fully render the amount of shots needed to make the zombies work. When it came to fight scenes, they made it even simpler. The actors clutched wadded faux fur for the small animal attacks, and batted away a hand puppet for the terrifying zombie giraffe scenes. The humans who are attacked get slightly better zombie treatment. My favorite gag involves the nesting instincts of a bald eagle. You’ll know when you see it.
Zoombies gets three gnawed cow hooves out of five. It’s a decent Saturday night drink-and-watch with friends.