Judge Mike Rubino doesn't drag his feet with zombie movie reviews.
"Zombies are people too!"
There's a scene in the original Dawn of the Dead when a bunch of SWAT guys discover a room filled with zombies. The room is so small, and the zombies so numerous, that they're heaped on top of each other, like a writhing, gnawing pile of leaves. The gruesome image is an accurate representation of the undead in pop culture; the perennial popularity of zombies has grown out of control and the level of quality has sadly lagged behind quantity.
Facts of the Case
A top secret military transport accidentally spills zombie-making toxic waste outside of a bowling alley in Los Angeles. The four slackers who populate the lanes get some of the green ooze into their soft-serve ice cream which, when combined with beer, turns them into zombies. They don't get it. To them, their world is the same, colorful world it always was; to the rest of humanity, they're members of the staggering, moaning undead.
The novelty behind Aaah! Zombies!! is that you're seeing much of the film from the zombie perspective. It's a clever idea: the zombies' world is in color, they look like humans, they're generally unconcerned about their missing appendages, and the rest of the world whizzes by them in a fast-forward blur. In the unfortunately crowded micro-genre of zombie-comedy, Aaah! (for short) stands out thanks to this surprisingly untapped, and well executed, gimmick.
Unfortunately, the movie doesn't offer much else beyond this change in perspective.
For starters, our four heroes are predictable Clerks-esque character sketches: Mike (Matthew Davis), the outgoing gross guy; Tim (Michael Grant Terry) his cautious, longtime friend; Vanessa (Julianna Robinson), Mike's ambitious ex-girlfriend; and Cindy (Betsy Beutler), the apple of Tim's decaying zombie eye. While the actors are on par with other low budget productions, its their dialogue that's the real pain. The lines aren't terribly witty, and the ones that are tend to have the comic timing edited right out of them.
If there's a bright spot amongst the cast it's the rogue, ex-soldier Nick Steele (Colby French). Steele shows up in a leather jacket and dog tags, spouting suitably tacky action cliches. Unlike the other characters, Steele adds a new layer of complication to the film by believing, and in turn convincing everyone, that they're actually super soldiers (not zombies). That bit of misdirection helps the zombie/human plotline move forward admirably while the four main characters fumble around with lame romantic B-plots.
Aaah! doesn't necessarily have the budget to pull off everything it's trying to accomplish, and as a result the zombie aspect of the movie suffers. Primarily, the zombie action is all but missing in the film. Almost every zombie kill happens off-camera, often accompanied with some awkward editing. It doesn't help that the zombies don't even seem interested in eating anyone.
For hardcore zombie fans, this film's a longtime coming: it originally toured the festival circuit under the title "Wasting Away" in 2007. Now it's finally available with a new (terribly generic and hard to Google) title on a serviceable DVD. The video is adequate but, again, suffers from a low budget. The 5.1 surround track gets the job done, too. The only special feature on the disc is a music video.
Aaah! Zombies!! offers a novel perspective on the zombie-comedy. It's a great idea, really. Unfortunately, the low budget, meandering plot, and slacker humor keep the rest of the movie from living up to the concept.
If you're looking for a light comedy after returning from your world-record breaking zombie walk, then Aaah! might be up your alley. For the casual, discerning zombie fan, this one's a pass.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
• Music Video
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