Reviving that which is Not Dead Yet by R.C. Murphy
One does not simply march into Cannes four months after dropping what was billed as the final film in a franchise and announce a new six-film deal to revive it.
But that’s exactly what Martin Moszkowicz, chairman of the board for Constantin Film, did during the international film festival. With absolutely no plan under their belt, the production company, which already owns film rights to Resident Evil, announced hopes for a six-film arc in an upcoming reboot. Variety scooped the original interview, but couldn’t get any juicy details from the chairman during their chat. Probably because no one was ready for him to jump out and announce something this big so soon.
Days after Moszkowicz’s Variety interview, Deadline dug up more dirt on this poorly-timed revival. According to them, the first film installment will be directed by James Wan (Saw, Aquaman). Wan made a name for himself in the horror industry, delivering films which on the page could become utterly ridiculous, but often end up being at the very least fun thrill-rides for the audience. I’ll never forget the night I sat to watch Dead Silence as a joke and wound up sleeping with the lights on. His work on Saw set the tone for virtually every scary flick released after 2004. It’s almost natural for anyone working in the genre to court Wan, and I don’t blame the RE team for wanting someone solid to lead the charge.
The wildcard in Constantin Film’s plan is the writer slated to bring a new voice to the franchise which earned $1.2 billion in its lifetime. Greg Russo is currently working with Wan on the upcoming Mortal Kombat revival. And that’s about it for his film writing career from what I managed to find. As a RE fan, that’s cause to raise a brow. A seemingly untested writer is handed one of the largest horror franchises with no notice and no plan from the production company besides grabbing Wan and apparently whoever he’s currently tied to professionally. A few articles said the MK script wasn’t half bad. But Constantin Film still demands massive faith from fans if they expect us to forgive rushing the original franchise into its grave, then they hand the lot to someone we’ve never heard of except that he’s working with a well-known horror director.
Wan’s name alone won’t make Resident Evil live again. Constantin Film hung the future for the reboot onto Russo’s ability to capture the magic which made the games so popular and drove the film franchise into horror history. It’s almost too much pressure to put on one person. Like someone simply walked up on Monday and said, “Here, we just told the public this is the last movie, but we’re going to have you rewrite the entire thing from the start. Don’t muck it up.” As a writer, I’d run far from that offer.
Keep in mind, there is no actual script yet. Everything has been announced, but all parties are currently focused on other productions. It’s entirely possibly Constantin Film will never get the Resident Evil reboot off the ground, or they’ll change the main production team before filming begins. These folks want to talk a big game in order to remain relevant, or simply to keep the film rights. There’s no planning behind this announcement; it’s giving me little faith in what’s to come.
Jovovich, the face of the film franchise since its inception, delivered this parting shot for the new Resident Evil team during an interview with ComicBook.com. “I would suggest that you find people that have that same passion for the property before you talk about reboots. I think if you get into this kind of genre, people are very sensitive to fakes. There’s some real fans in the sci-fi/action/horror world, and they’re not idiots. They can smell when something is done because people love it and when something is done just to monetize an opportunity.”
If you were given the monumental task of writing the first Resident Evil reboot film, what changes would you make to the universe, or do you prefer the tale laid out by the original series? Personally, I dig the idea of a reboot because they never did reach the universe’s full potential. However, the timing makes this news like dancing in the cooling ashes of a funeral pyre. It’s the ultimate case of, “Too soon, bro.”
Starring: Dougray Scott, Jessica De Gouw, and Elen Rhys
Here’s something a tad different, yet the movie somehow follows all the checkpoints of a solidly uninventive plot. I grabbed The Rezort to review primarily because it boasted a complete lack of pointless make-out scenes and nudity. Horror movies don’t need sex to make them interesting. Human emotions go far deeper than that. While there’s nothing horribly surprising about how this film’s plot unfolds, there’s a world of nuance in not only how the characters handle a resurgence of the undead outbreak, but it demonstrates how humanity will always manage to shoot itself in the foot when they attempt to drag war-time normality into post-war life.
Melanie survived the zombie war, but it left her an orphan. The emotional damage from years spent scrambling to survive leaves her with PTSD and an inability to move on thanks to nightmares. Someone at her support group suggests immersion therapy, giving her information about The Rezort—an island off the Australian cost filled with undead, where the rich go to pretend they’re brave and safely shoot zombies. She and her boyfriend Lewis, who fought in the zombie war with no obvious mental repercussions, decide to give immersion therapy a try. They’re tossed in with a group of others and off they go into the park, with naught but a few hidden fences keeping them out of real danger.
You see where the plot goes from there. The fences fail after a zombie activist group sneaks a virus into the resort’s computer system and it’s a race to escape before the island is torched by the government in the Brimstone protocol. The characters are, for the most part, prototypes: The Survivor Girl, Her Boyfriend With A Dark Secret, The Warrior Old Guy, The Mindless Morons, The Employee With A Heart, The Clueless Activist, and The Heartless CEO. We never form attachments to them. Hell, most of their names fly over the audience’s head up until their death scene. As each main character bites the dust, it confirms the unoriginal writing process for this script. The only character with soul is Mel, and she is the survivor girl, so we expect her to be an actual character. To show how little effort goes into the characters, it’s not even that satisfying when Vivian, the CEO, is attacked by the zombies she created and imprisoned. Here’s a character who took refugees and turned them into a profit, but without character depth it’s just a fact tossed out to sound interesting right before a death gag featuring numerous zombies tearing a body apart.
Vivian’s actions do lend to some intriguing discussion about what happens when the rich put everything they have during wartime into one venture, and then must move on once they’re found on the winning side of the war. In this case, the Rezort isn’t formed until right after the war. It comes across as a novel way to contain remaining undead while making a buck from a free resource. But what happens when there’s too many keen to relive the “glory days,” where it was marshal law and everyone walked around armed to the teeth? How does one keep up with that kind of demand when the zombie outbreak is under control? Make more zombies, of course. Just use what you have. No one will miss the refugees—a startling statement, but look at Syria. At the cost of the most fragile, the wealthy can have a weekend vacation in paradise. It’s disgusting, and exactly the same mentality countries like the USA currently adopt.
The message in The Rezort is the real take-away here. It’s not the characters having fun or even Mel mistakenly trying to cure her PTSD by participating in forced slavery. It’s the complete lack of care for the human lives affected by the war which is the story. It’s a corporation looking at people who only want to know when they’ll have a home or a full stomach again and determining their lives count for nothing except a paycheck down the line, which should petrify anyone with any concern for their fellow humans. It also just so happens that this film is shot beautifully—except for the opening shaky-cam footage—and has some rather impressive FX makeup for the zombies. Overall, I’m giving The Rezort four oozing eyeballs out of five. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’ll start a conversation about the state of our world.
In a wicked case of, “Too soon, a-hole,” I was given Burying the Ex to review not long after Anton Yelchin’s passing. Guilt ate at me until I finally watched. It’d be a disservice to an incredible actor to not watch everything he did on the screen. Spoilers, this film delivers exactly what it promises—a lighthearted horror romance with plenty of off-kilter jokes.
The relationship between Max and Evelyn is beyond ridiculous . . . yet not completely off-base in some areas. Keep in mind, Evelyn doesn’t go off the deep, deep end until magic changes the terms of their relationship. The earlier issues Max has with Evelyn are grounded in reality. She’s holding him back from his dream to own his own horror prop shop. All their meals are vegan. Though, Evelyn does have Max’s back when it comes to his hyper-sexual, skuzzball half-brother, Travis. Brotherly love does not extend to banging chicks on your half-brother’s floor just so they don’t know where you live, just saying. There’s no love between girlfriend and half-brother. Evelyn chews Travis out every time he lets himself into their apartment.
Evelyn’s magically-amplified jealousy left a bad taste in my mouth after Olivia’s introductory scene. Evie was unhinged and so neurotic over ice cream, it hit ludicrous fast. The point was to show Evelyn spiraling out of control, eventually leading to her death. Instead, the scene killed all pity for the character and made Olivia the side chick for trying to do her job. Hell, she didn’t ask for Max’s phone number or offer him a lap dance. They both just happen to know a lot about kid’s horror-themed cereal. The clunky jealousy bleeds over to zombie Evelyn’s on-screen time, but isn’t as problematic until the film’s climax.
On the flipside, the secondary romance story is something which would make one sigh, save Max being distracted by a friggen zombie who won’t move out of his apartment. Olivia is the cool, but weird chick most people write as death-obsessed, practically sleeping in a coffin Goth. She’s funny, refreshing, Most importantly, at no point did her scenes become, “Everything you can do, I can do better,” with Olivia doing out of character things just to prove she’s not Evelyn.
On the effects side, things are a little light. Evelyn’s makeup morphs wonderfully from freshly risen to mottled, withered walking dead as the film’s second half plays out. What few other practical effects are in the film are graphic. Viewers can dang near feel the sticky embalming fluid vomit. By the way, there’s a post-credit add-on showing the FX team pumping the goo into Yelchin’s face. He reacted out of character about the same as he did in character.
Burying the Ex is an “It gets better,” note to any weirdo feeling stuck in every aspect of their life. Sure, they won’t end up with an unhinged, jealous zombie sharing their bed, but Max did eventually move on from everything holding him back and making him miserable. I give the film three and a three-quarters cracked skulls out of five.
Starring: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradley, Leon Burchill, and Keith Agius
Rated: Not Rated (Contains violence, adult language, and mild nudity)
Synopsis: Barry is a talented mechanic and family man whose life is torn apart on the eve of a zombie apocalypse. His sister, Brooke, is kidnapped by a sinister team of gas-mask wearing soldiers & experimented on by a psychotic doctor. While Brooke plans her escape Barry goes out on the road to find her & teams up with Benny, a fellow survivor – together they must arm themselves and prepare to battle their way through hordes of flesh-eating monsters in a harsh Australian bushland. [Synopsis written by Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner]
This film came through the food slot on my cell door a while ago . . . and was promptly lost under a bone pile in the corner. I found it today and decided to give it a go—it’s not often I’m given the chance to watch a zombie flick from another country and I had hopes this would be an Australian La Horde in some way. Spoilers: It isn’t. Nor did it deliver a Mad Max vibe, as billed in the majority of press written by their marketing team. Homemade safety gear does not automatically make a film a skip away from entering the Thunderdome. Pair all this with a disjointed story telling gimmick for the first forty–five minutes and the film falls a little flat. Once they get past the getting-to-know-you bit with the characters and setting the apocalypse, it’s a tolerable hack-n-slash flick with enough comedic moments to overlook some flaws. I mean, how can one dislike a film with golden phrases like mouth farts?
One thing the movie has for it is an original approach to the ecological repercussions of the undead during the apocalypse. Surely people turning into freaky creatures at the drop of a hat means other things are wrong. Turns out, whatever airborne virus changes humans also makes combustible materials inert. How’s a guy supposed to save the day if he can’t drive? Simple, use zombies as fuel. The gas they emit is highly flammable. And smells like farts. That’s a key take-away from the film.
Okay. Not really.
As much as I enjoyed the witty banter between characters, there’s not a lot of depth to anyone except Barry. His story through the first half is gut-wrenching. However, once he gets back on track to finding his sister, the story unravels into a series of deaths designed to have little to no actual impact on the hero until he pairs up with Benny. Side note: There’s three lead characters with similar names. It’s like they got stuck on the B section in a baby-naming book while penning the script. Barry’s sister, Brooke, becomes the sole female survivor in the story. As such, she’s bogged down by metaphysical gifts to make her unique and special, and more powerful to the men holding her captive. It’s like the writers couldn’t fathom an everyday woman capable of escaping. While, yes, Brooke’s ability to control zombies is pretty neat, it becomes a plot crutch, leading to several long moments where she’s supposed to call the undead and leaves the action to happen around her, without the only woman on screen really doing anything aside from standing and scowling.
The hero zombie makeup is pretty decent, featuring sunken eye sockets and mild wounds since most zombies turn without being bitten thanks to the zombie gas in the air. However, there’s a few background zombies who get close-ups and their splotchy greasepaint makeup breaks the continuity established for the dead. It’s jarring to see four zombies in a row in detailed FX makeup with full-face appliances, only to zoom in one another which looks like their makeup took maybe fifteen minutes to apply in the back of a car with a palm-sized mirror.
Overall, Wyrmwood proved slightly disappointing. I wanted something grander, crafted with care for the genre. What they delivered needed more time in editing to make it flow better and maybe a few reshoots to elaborate more on everyone except Benny. I give the film three decaying hearts out of five. It’s an okay film to add to your zombie-flick marathon come October.
When it comes to zombie movies we know the drill: some terrible plague or catastrophic event has caused the dead to rise and crave the flesh of the living. Bonds of family and friendship mean nothing to these ambling undead cannibals. They are mindless, soulless and heartless. This is certainly the school of thought accepted by the remaining humans in Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies, but one brooding zombie boy might change their minds, and the world.