Image Entertainment // 2012 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 3rd, 2012
On this island, survival is no game.
Yet another zombie apocalypse has overrun the planet. "Walkers" menace the human population, plodding along, looking to eat as many faces as possible. Enter two survivors: Elvis (Scott Peat) and Tweeter (Marissa Merrill). Elvis is a medic, a former father and husband who lost his family to the undead hordes. The two pair up and opt to make a break for freedom from their rundown urban hellhole. They hop a boat and set out...only to wash up on an island.
They think they're in the clear, but zombies are lumbering in paradise as well. Complicating things even further is the presence of a hyper-protective commune of human survivors led by an enigmatic authoritarian, Kurt Conrad (James C. Burns). At first glance, Kurt seems willing to make the tough choices to keep people safe and alive, that is until an extended stay at his resort reveals some disturbing truths that make getting one's butt devoured by a zombie look pretty good in comparison.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by Dead Season. I was expecting some tongue-in-cheek riff on Survivor, or maybe even the zombie video game Dead Island, but what I got was a serious attempt at legit horror. Not having a sense of humor can often prove perilous for low-budget zombie movies, but Dead Season manages to pull off this bleak tone on the strength of director Adam Deyoe's storytelling skills, the quality of the film's practical gore effects, and decent performances turned in by the principal cast.
Is there a lot of new stuff here? No, not really. The human-is-more-dangerous-than-the-zombie conceit has been done before, most notably in 28 Days Later. The zombies themselves look like the standard-issue meat-slingers from every other genre pic, and thankfully don't possess the quickness of Usain Bolt (which should be appreciated by old-school zombie movie connoisseurs).
What Deyoe and company do well is noteworthy. The human enclave's dirty secret is genuinely disquieting, so much so it pits Elvis and Tweeter against each other in disagreement over said secret's morality. This choice adds a nice slice of tension to the film, making these characters more interesting than the usual undead cannon fodder.
The real treat here is the gore. The various zombie and human deaths are gooey and meaty, but not so over-the-top that Dead Season descends into parody. Deyoe is not interested in humor, dark or otherwise. He is interested in decapitations and bludgeoning, and the VFX team churns out some nice non-CGI moments which are deeply appreciated.
The DVD: a nice clean standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby 5.1 Surround, and extras which include a director's commentary, a nine-minute making-of featurette, some deleted scenes, and outtakes.
It doesn't rewrite the book on zombie filmmaking, but Dead Season is a nice little horror experience that distinguishes itself from the horde of zombie films released year after year after year.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes