Friday, April 22, 2011
4.1 AAAH! ZOMBIES! (WASTING AWAY) (2007)
Dir. Matthew & Sean Kohnen
Matthew and Sean Kohnen have put together a very entertaining first film, and again, most of that boils down to raising enough money to actually realize their vision of a zombie comedy. With talented actors and good equipment, they are able to make a script that at first seems like it might be just a one-note waste of time, into something really special.
I just wish they'd gone with the original name. Wasting Away is a lot stronger than Aaah! Zombies! The stupid name is part of why I've put off watching this film for so long. I really wasn't expecting much with that name.
Anyway, the main story goes a little something like this: A group of four friends are infected by a military-developed super-soldier formula that went horribly wrong. What makes this one interesting is that our main characters, Tim (Michael Grant Terry), Cindy (Betsy Beutler), Mike (Matthew Davis), and Vanessa (Julianna Robinson), and their new comrade, Nick Steele (Colby French), are the zombies. They just don't know it.
More below the break...
Instead, they think that the combination of weird green slime and dairy products (they unknowingly made ice cream from it), has turned them into Super Soldiers with the ability to take horrible physical damage and go on living. The hair and skin loss, they put down to the formula "streamlining" their bodies. And Mike's sudden taste for brains? Eh, just go with it. He's the experimental eater of the group anyway.
The production is pretty nicely orchestrated, filming reality in black and white, but switching to color for the zombie perspective. It's kind of an obvious comment, but as in The Wizard of Oz, the fantasy world is just that much more vivid than the characters' real lives that the switch in film stock works.
The performances aren't bad, but Matthew Davis as Mike, really stands out. He's pretty natural at the smart-ass, slacker friend role, and also gets to have the most fun with their zombie/super-soldier predicament. The loss of his hand, and eventually his entire body, allows him to really play with the character. Plus, he gives the most rousing speech a severed head has ever given on film (not the creepy sexual kind of speech we got in Re-Animator).
Colby French as Nick Steele, the Super Soldier with a Secret, also does a really fun job with his character. I wasn't sure about Michael Grant Terry at first. I was afraid he was just stuck in a simple, good guy role. And while that's mostly the case, he really buys into it and makes it work. Plus, he gives his zombie alter-ego the most energy, making me laugh out loud every single time the film cut to their zombie reality. He puts everything into his zombie stagger!
The ladies were shorted dramatically, never really getting to do much beyond moon, bitch, and follow, but they both do good jobs with what they're given.
According to the Internet, this film ended up costing about $1,000,000 to produce and was filmed in California. Again, that's not a lot for a film, but they put the money to very good use and put together a very professional looking piece of work that is well worth your attention. It even has a happy ending. Sort of.