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Case Number 24127: Small Claims Court

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Ground Zero

Alternative Cinema // 2010 // 87 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // July 13th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge Paul Pritchard's love of the living dead has just died a little.

The Charge

Our End Is Their Beginning.

The Case

When a political activist (Brian Sheets) injects himself with a deadly virus in an attempt to expose the truth about the intentions of the Nat-Tech Corporation, he is hunted down and—along with his cohorts—executed by members of a shadowy organization. To clean up the mess, professional "cleaners" Jairus (Mike Langer) and Greer (Sahna Foley) are called in to dispose of the body by the mysterious Mr. Johnson (David Candland).

Upon arriving at the site, Jairus is surprised to find Johnson has arranged for an additional two cleaners to work with him. Despite his reservations—and Johnson's reluctance to disclose any information on their job besides the basics—Jairus and Greer get on with retrieving the bodies and cleaning up the mess. However, when one of the bodies rises from the dead, the cleanup crew find themselves in a fight for their lives.

Ground Zero lacks both the spark of originality and conviction required to stand out in a massively overcrowded market. Shooting on a minuscule budget, director Channing Lowe and his co-writers were forced to adapt their story to meet their financial reality. In an attempt to keep expenses such as makeup and cast members to a minimum, they hit upon the idea of telling a story of how the zombie apocalypse might come about. It's a premise that, though hardly original, still contains much promise. Unfortunately, there isn't anything new added to the formula, so Ground Zero never really gets going.

Even for a low-budget zombie flick that lacks the money to back up the promise of its poster, Ground Zero takes far too long to get going. For reasons that are completely inexplicable, the primary focus of the opening hour is the relationship woes of Jarius, who frequently takes phone calls from his irritable girlfriend. How this is supposed to in any way result in a better horror film I do not know. What I do know is that it isn't in any way involving, and becomes tiresome extremely quickly. On a similar note: incidental dialogue—of which there is far too much, in what one assumes is an attempt at adding depth to the characters—lacks a naturalness, and so highlights even further the lack of quality writing afforded to the film.

Introducing comedy into any horror movie is tricky. Get it right and you just might have a classic on your hands, get it wrong and you risk killing your film stone dead. The humor in Ground Zero is of the goofy variety, and I mean that in the worst possible way. The film's comedy—which feels unnecessarily shoehorned in—consists of a pair of movie quoting geeks who are included solely to ensure the film acquires a semi-decent body count.

Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, Ground Zero suffers from a dull transfer. Colors lack vibrancy, and often appear muddy amongst a flat picture that lacks sharpness. The stereo soundtrack contains clear dialogue.

Alongside a selection of outtakes, Shock-O-Rama's DVD features the "Making of Ground Zero" featurette, in which director Channing Lowe discusses how the films genesis.

As a horror movie, Ground Zero is found as wanting as a horny teenage boy loitering outside a brothel. Where's the tension; where's the atmosphere, where, in the name of all that is pure and good in the world, are the underwear-troubling scares? In the absence of any genuine horror—not to mention solid storytelling—we get a film reliant exclusively on good old-fashioned idiocy to both progress the plot and deliver the handful of death scenes.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 30

Perp Profile

Studio: Alternative Cinema
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette
• Outtakes


• IMDb

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