Wednesday, November 18, 2015

In short: Re-Kill (2015)

It’s a few years after the first (fast) zombie virus outbreak. Large parts of the world’s population have been killed, but the survivors – at least the US ones, which are the only ones we’ll meet - are pretending things did not fundamentally change, so there’s still TV, TV ads (though for things like an anti-zombie-virus medication that doesn’t actually work, and sex because there’s a certain repopulation pressure), and reality shows. The reality show we are watching is called Re-Kill and follows the misadventures of a squad, ahem, division of the Re-Kill military organization created to kill the not exactly tiny remnants of the Re-Ans (which is this film’s zombie moniker).

Journalists Jimmy and Bobby are the lucky bastards accompanying R-Division 8 (among whose members are Daniella Alonso, Roger R. Cross, Scott Adkins and Bruce Payne). After encountering a truck shipping Re-Ans through the United States, the group is tasked with following the truck’s trail to something called Project Judas in the walled-off ruins of Old New York. The mission doesn’t go very well.

If you’re like me and you’re suffering from a bit of zombie fatigue (and don’t even like The Walking Dead outside of its Telltale Games incarnation), a POV military horror film with zombies which predominantly takes place in corridors and empty industrial buildings does not sound too enticing. So I think it says something for Valeri Milev’s Re-Kill when I tell you I actually think it’s a pretty neat little low budget horror/action movie that doesn’t re-invent the zombie genre but does put quite a bit of effort into its worldbuilding, even if most of it comes in form of – rather funny – fake ads for post-zombie-apocalypse products that break up the bloody, camera-shaking violence. These ads not only do some nice satirical work on contemporary TV culture, they also represent the state the film’s world is in, the story the characters try to tell each other to be able to sleep at night, but also provide useful exposition, and all in a simple yet flexible format. It’s the sort of cleverness and humour you’d have found in a New World production from its golden age, and like in the best of the films of that particular era, they enhance a simple yet effective genre tale with a bit of cleverness.

Said genre tale is certainly on the pulpy side, not very complex, but told with gusto and a lot of blood and guts, providing quite a bit of fun for this jaded viewer. Milev makes the most out of the budget he has to work with, never letting his characters stop so much their mostly grey and brown surroundings become boring, setting up some nasty little set-pieces, all the while taking a look at a world full of people who’d really like to pretend everything’s going to go back to normal some day soon, but just can’t anymore. The cast of TV and character actors does the expectedly good job, leaving the increasingly shaking camera as the only thing I found potentially annoying about Re-Kill. Though thematically and logically, the camera shakes do belong into the footage we see, so the film gets a pass there too.

So it seems there’s still life in the rotting corpse of the zombie genre.

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