This is a Cinema Static TV movie review of the Syfy Original Saturday Night movie called Zombie Apocalypse. So was this another typical Syfy movie or was it something on a different level than the usual Syfy fare?
The cast of Zombie Apocalypse includes Ving Rhames (Shark Night 3D, The River Murders), Taryn Manning (The Speed of Thought; Hawaii Five-0), Lesley-Ann Brandt (Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena), Eddie Steeples (I Know Who Killed Me; My Name Is Earl [Yes, he still has the hair!]), Johnny Pacar (Make It or Break It), Gary Weeks (Elena Undone), & Anya Monzikova (Iron Man 2).
The cast makes you think there might be something to this flick. It’s directed by Nick Lyon (Species: The Awakening) and written by Brooks Peck (Rage of the Yeti ) & Craig Engler (Also Rage of the Yeti & the voice behind the Syfy Twitter account).
A Quick Start Outline
Zombie Apocalypse opens to a terse telling of a zombie infection that spreads throughout the world, taking down 90% of the human population. The quick telling in both printed words and visuals of the infection reminds you quickly of multiple other zombie franchises, but I’m not sure that’s an avoidable situation.
We then watch three humans rummaging noisily through a store and suddenly extras… I mean zombies start ambling out of the woodwork, coming after them.
Rather than flee, they stand and shoot and scream. They almost succumb to the deadly dead attack. One of them gets turned but the other two are saved by a group of zombie chopping saviors.
Zombie Apocalypse is produced by The Asylum, the production company notorious for their thematic, low quality rip offs like Battle of Los Angeles, Titanic II, Paranormal Entity, Transmorphers: Fall of Man, The Terminators, The Day the Earth Stopped… and the like.
To be honest, I came into this TV movie expecting the worse, being from The Asylum, but it didn’t suck.
The opening was a collection of standard effects of inexpensive zombie gore and stiffly choreographed fight scenes that was a bit tough to digest. But as yet another zombie TV platform, it seems to travel down the road traveled by The Walking Dead. That’s not a knock, and again, probably unavoidable, considering the amount of attention The Walking Dead is getting in its second season.
What Zombie Apocalypse did introduce to me though was zombie animals and what looked like zombies that may actually plot and lay in wait. I don’t recall seeing that before.
The narrative moves along at a slow digestible pace, as we learn about each character via dialog between them. All the while, the small band of humans travel across country to the potential safe haven of the island of Catalina, off the coast of Southern California. It’s a journey with a few losses and a few new friends made along the way. The movie comes to a close with one of the usual scenes where the camera focuses on characters swinging at something off-camera, because it must be pretty expensive to have CGI and live-action cast interact too often in the same frame.
Looking Back On It
I was happily surprised by this Asylum production, but a bit disappointed in the less than starring presence of Ving Rhames. I expected him to have a larger presence in the TV movie. (I had just watched him earlier in the day in the Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake!)
I think what pulled the production through this script was what I suspect to be the talent of the actors. It was nice to see some character as opposed to the usual stiffly acted newbie filled casts we sometimes see.
For a Syfy channel movie, Zombie Apocalypse was not bad at all. It was good, slow, methodical TV popcorn fun.
Disclaimer: Before you try and rip me a new one, remember, I’m comparing it against other Syfy and Asylum movies, not a real dramatic piece!