More plot than you’d expect to get out of a zombie with a shotgun…
Yeah, this was fun. As many of my readers well know, my wife watches a lot of horror movies with me, and one of our favorite things to do is riff the movie we’re watching. It’s one of the ways I know a movie has riffing potential. Of course this movie, being a shoe-string indie, had all kinds of riffable material. It’s like the trope my wife coined “ForeCaging,” (named after the hammy acting of Nicolas Cage) which means “Foreshadowing riff worthy material from the setup.”
The name of this movie being Zombie With a Shotgun, in of itself ‘ForeCaged’ ample riffing material which immediately attracted me to the concept. That’s why I was somewhat surprised to see a thoughtful movie rife with plot. I was honestly expecting mindless, Splatter Punk Grindhouse, like Hobo With a Shotgun (2011). In fact, by the title alone, I was considering doing one of my ‘Art Snob’ parody reviews.
However, because this movie was pretty thoughtful, I felt compelled to do a full and proper review because there was a lot they did wrong and a lot they did SO right!
My one and only real complaint is that they tried to shoe-horn too much into their thoughtful story arch. To explain the setup, there is an outbreak of a zombie virus, the police have had enough and are killing the infected, the government wants to capture and study the infected, and there are independent groups trying to hide and secure the infected.
That, in of itself, was enough, without a weird love triangle between the female lead, the male lead, and a mysterious seductress. Including the cops having their own internal struggle with the moral ramifications of murdering people not yet zombied. While also introducing a mysterious cabal like organization that may or may not have something to do with the infection. Simultaneously being chased by bounty hunters trying to track and capture the male lead (cause he has the infection). Finally, uncovering the bizarre occult powers that the infected seem to be influenced by, regardless of the fact that the Zombification is caused by a virus. There is SO DAMN MUCH going on, it’s honestly hard to keep track. But that’s also half the damn fun and charm of this crazy movie.
You know, the acting isn’t even that bad for horror. It’s definitely better than Zombie Strippers which managed to have the acting quality of a porno. For the production value, the acting is even good. As I said, this is a shoe-stringer indie, meaning their studio likely spent every dime they had on the actors.
The FX budget looked like they had to beg, borrow, and steal. In fact, most of the sets which is responsible for the atmosphere looked like abandoned structures they filmed at without permission. That being said, the practical FX they had were actually quite brilliant. They leaned on getting the simplicity of the FX just right, and avoided complications. Even the CGI was well hidden, as obviously budget CGI never looks passable.
That sorta brings me to one of the most brilliant scenes in the movie. Clearly, at some point the budget ran dry but they still needed to finish some scenes. Rather than phone it in on total garbage FX, they digitized the scenes into animation. This both covers up the lack of FX, while also making a whole scene (which might have otherwise been dull) look interesting. It was really a clever use of animation and only serves to make the movie more entertaining.
Obviously, when it comes a Shoe-Stringers with a title like Zombie With A Shotgun, Hardcore Horror Heads and Riffers only. Pop some corn, order a pizza, hit dat blunt, guzzie a bottle, and enjoy!
Not to labor on the ‘cup that runneth over with plot,’ but there was one thing they jammed into this movie that is the sole reason to watch it. The Zombie Mind Meld. No fucking joke there People! One of the bizarre occult powers you get from zombification is a strange sort of hive mind. Basically, as the movie explains, we are connected, even in death, and this movie seems to suggest that the dead are even more connected when they rise.
The male lead can actually connect with zombies and seemingly control them. He also has a rare genetic condition which means he’ll get to keep a lot of his faculties, even as a member of the undead. And unlike the absolute travesty that was Day of the Dead: Bloodlines, the use here is kinda clever. This one zombie could potentially rule a legion of zombies with his mind.
Honestly, that part of the plot, and the black cabal are what this movie should have focused on. That concept alone was way more fun than the rest which just seemed to slow things down a bit. It’s all really more of an origin story about a daffy new concept in undead heroes.
Seriously though, it was a lot of fun and for that I can recommend it.
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