I guess you could consider myself spoiled as far as movies go, now I will give almost anything a chance, but unfortunately with my patience level, that's where it ends, I've been known to return a movie after only watching the first 10-15 minutes if I'm not feeling it. I'm quite sure that I have lost out on quite a few cinematic gems, but I feel pretty sure that I've saved myself from a lot of wasted time. Unfortunately, the latter is how I felt after watching Steve Niles' Remains, which was released for a 3 day premiere run at a movie theater near my home, mainly due to the fact that the movie was shot in 2 different locations close to my domicile. Shooting for the film began in late May- early June and Synthetic Cinema International put out the call for numerous extras and role players. I really wanted to jump in and try to get on set, but my job prohibited me from doing so. All in all, this 3 day premiere was kind of a gift to the many aspiring actors that set out to become zombified on film. The movie itself doesn't air on Chiller TV until December 16th, so I took it as quite a treat to see it before the rest of the masses....my mistake. So here it goes, if you don't want any spoilers, or are holding out hope for this movie, TURN BACK NOW.
Now I never read the graphic novels, so I jumped in blind, but say the word "zombie" and you've got my attention. The story takes place in Reno, Nevada and centers in on a very unpopulated run-down casino, and as the hardcore gamblers and smarmy, self-absorbed employees go about their normal business, outside there has been a nuclear disaster ( of course) caused by the government ( what else is new ? ) that ultimately turns all of the city residents into flesh-eating zombies. We then focus our attention on Tom, played by Grant Bowler ( True Blood fans will remember him as Cooter) - Tom is an alcoholic casino blackjack dealer who has numerous romantic trysts with cocktail waitress Tori, played by Evalena Marie. Well needless to say, while the city of Reno lies burning amidst nuclear fallout, these two have been locked in a storage closet " improving employee relations" if you catch my drift. When power is restored to the casino and the electronic lock releases on the closet, they come across numerous denizens of the undead and fight back gallantly. They soon become assisted by fledgling casino magician Jensen, played by former child actor Miko Hughes ( Pet Sematary, Kindergarten Cop & Wes Craven's A New Nightmare). All 3 quickly instantly go into defense mode but are all to happy to open the casino doors to a man that was trapped outside during the blast, but oddly enough hasn't suffered no signs of infection... his name is Victor, and he is portrayed by Andrew Marks. The group of 3 now becomes a foursome and the zombie beatdown commences, some good kills overall, but here is my main problem with the film. Again, call me spoiled, but I like my undead a couple of ways - slow and methodical, or track-star fast, but both with relentless aggression. Now certainly how a zombie operates and feeds is open to numerous interpretations, but these guys just come off as silly. For one instance, every zombie that I have seen feeds on living human flesh, but this particular group starts to eat each other, and themselves as well after a while ( hmmmm.) This group of the undead eats many other things, like food left out on dinner tables, and even the stuffing from a chair cushion. NOW it gets odd, at certain times at night, all of the zombies go into a kind of catatonic sleep mode, Yeah you heard that right, zombie naptime... they twitch, they bite in their sleep, and even occasionally moan and groan during their relaxation period. When they are awaken, which can happen quite easily, their agitation level rises, and some run full speed, while some just can't seem to get out of their own way.
In numerous scenes, survivors are able to slip on by without even drawing a second look, and in what I consider the silliest scene ( mainly due to my zombie purism), one of our cast gets bit on their fingers. So in order to prevent the virus from spreading, the offending fingers are lopped off by another cast member. As the cast member that is holding the now separated digits, they are confronted face-to-face by a snarling, crazed zombie. First inclination should be to raise your weapon and aim for the grey matter, but nope, our survivor simply tosses the fingers over the shoulders of the infected killer, who is only too happy to bypass this human buffet standing in front of him, and opt for the fingers. COME ON ALREADY !!!! In all my years of zombie film viewing, I have never seen a dumber group of the undead.
Moving along, the remaining survivors are rescued ( or so we are led to believe) by a military command unit, led by Ramsey, played by Lance Reddick, and his daughter Cindy, portrayed by Tawny Cypress, and their small, albeit well-armed band of soldiers. I really don't want to let on too much more here, but let me give you the turbo lowdown. The military turns out to be a bunch of scumbags, with the exception of Cindy, a love affair blooms while another one comes crashing down, and the proverbial door is left swinging WIDE open for a sequel.
So here is a quick rundown of the essential film categories, with ratings from 0 to 4 stars.
Storyline - Typical apocalypse set-up very slow at times - 2 out of 4 stars.
Acting - I found it really tough to care for any character in this film - dead acting ( no pun intended) - 1 out of 4 stars.
Zombies - Sorry for this, but these were the worst bunch of deadheads I've ever set eyes on. If these survivors had truly applied themselves, this apocalypse would have been over shortly after it started. - 0 out of 4 stars.
Special Effects - Kudos to Synthetic Cinemas as the skylines and city shots of a burning horizon didn't look too CGI infused, but just enough to be convincing. ( There is however one car crash that comes off unbelievably cheesy) - 3 out of 4 stars.
Overall, I can honestly say that I was disappointed with this movie. I wasn't expecting too much, but hey you work with what you have, and who knows, maybe after I give it another go when it premieres on TV in a few days, I may think differently......but I doubt it.
2 out of 4 stars.