Dir. Marc Forster (2013)
Marc Forster is pretty far down the list of director’s I’d expect to be trying their hand at a horror film, but then again this is basically Outbreak with the virus personified instead of a zombie movie. I love zombies, or at least I used to. Once anarchic, subversive, transgressive, and loaded with metaphor and social satire, they are now basically the default monster for any sort of ominous, invading danger. If the vampires in I am Legend became Zombies, in this film zombies become little more tha forces of nature; hyperactive versions of Hitchcock’s birds.
Forster, and the 7 or 8 guys who worked and re-worked the script (apparently the first draft was really, really good from what I’ve heard), position the Zombies (and they actually call them the Z word) as natural predators and give them fish-like CGI physics of the Zombies themselves didn’t work for me. Aside fro looking silly, CGI Monsters just aren’t nearly as effective as even the most raggedly created practical make-up effects (cf. I am Legend again).
The biggest problem here, perhaps the natural occurrence of having so many rewrites, is a series of tensions that make this one terribly ridiculous film. There are a couple of odd attempts at dark humor (scenes that would be more at home in South Park’s parody of this film) that feel left over from a more humorous draft.
But perhaps most damaging to the film as a whole is a series of increasingly absurd events that require increasingly impossible suspensions of disbelief. This isn’t always usually a problem; a horror film doesn’t have to make sense. But this is a movie about scientists, about educated policy makers. It’s creates too much dissonance to expect us to believe their credibility as smart people and see them in a series of unbelievable events: Brad Bitt turns into Bruce Willis from Unbreakable, (in the most bizzare scene) Zombies destroy Jerusalem because Jews and Arabs peacefully celebrate too loudly, and the deus-ex-machina solution to the zombie apocalypse had to have been so glaringly obvious that everyone should have figured it out in a few hours and not require Brad Pitt to unintentionally get a whole lot of people killed. Once again, horror movies don’t and at times shouldn’t make sense. But this isn’t really a horror movie. Sure there are zombies but after the initial attacks there is no dread, no frights, little mystery. It’s an action movie, or more correctly a virus movie, and those should and are expected to be resemble more the real world.