J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Zombies: The Title Says It All

Arguably, a prison cell is a worse place to find oneself than a hospital bed during the initial days of a zombie apocalypse. Fortunately, one of the surviving detectives realizes killings that landed Luke behind bars were not really killings. Yes, it all looks and sounds familiar, but at least the energy level is cranked up throughout Hamid Torabpour’s Zombies (trailer here), which opens today in select theaters.

Eventually, Luke and Det. Sommers fight their way out of the station, holing up in a shelter with a rag-tag band of survivors. Luke becomes their best scout and forager, regularly venturing out in search of more survivors. He is particularly keen to find his girlfriend Bena, since she is played by former America’s Next Top Model contestant Raina Hein. However, it will be Bena and her surly pal Tala who find Luke when he most needs help. This is quite a small town. He had just encountered Haley, another former girlfriend (or something), who has suffered a nasty psychotic break. Rather bizarrely, she seems to have some sort of symbiotic bond with the shuffling hordes, which allows her to lure unsuspecting survivors to their deaths.

Right, the rather generically titled Zombies could be described as three parts Walking Dead and one part Wyrmwood. Perhaps Torabpour recognized the Haley sub-plot does not make much sense, because he chokes it off relatively early in the second act. Regardless, he delivers some bounteous helpings of hack-and-blast zombie killing action. To give a feel for where the film is coming from, everyone basically admits the big climatic zombie battle involves a crazy plan and it’s probably avoidable in the first place, but they are going to do it anyway, because why not?

Why not indeed? Zombies are nowhere near as gripping or inventive as Train to Busan, the breakout zombie hit of the year. However, it delivers the raw meat. It is also cool to see horror legend Tony Todd playing a good guy, the world weary Det. Sommers. Steven Luke is respectably hardnosed as his namesake, while Hein shows some solid action chops as Bena.

This is basically a meat-and-potatoes zombie film that could become a sentimental fan favorite over time. There is nothing spectacularly original about it, but it aims to please. Recommended for zombie buffs, Zombies opens today in select markets.

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