Archive for March 7, 2016

Re-Kill

I may have thrown in the towel in utter disgust as far as The Walking Dead is concerned (in both its television and comic-book iterations), but what can I say? I’m still a sucker for low-budget direct-to-video zombie flicks and probably always will be. I’d first heard mention of Re-Kill, which was being touted as a kind of “action movie set after the zombie apocalypse,” a few years back when it was being filmed on the cheap in Bulgaria (which is also where Steve Miner’s atrocious Day Of The Dead re-make was lensed), but that was about the last I’d given any thought to it until I saw that it was finally released in 2015 as part of After Dark Horror Fest’s 8 Films To Die For package for that year (which I already talk about like it was the distant fucking past or something). “Okay, that’s cool,” I thought, “glad to see it’s finally coming out. Maybe I’ll check it out if it ever hits Netflix.”

Which it now has. And so I did. And now I know why this thing was allowed by its financiers to sit around on the shelf and gather dust for awhile.

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The plot particulars, for those of you who absolutely must know them : five years on from a viral outbreak that decimated approximately 85% of the world’s population, the undeclared war between Re-Animates (of “Re-Ans,” as they’re more commonly known) and us humans continues unabated. Most urban centers are completely uninhabitable, but in some cities the human population has managed to re-assert control be segregating the “Re-Ans” into quarantine zones that are patrolled, and subsequently wiped out if all goes according to plan,  by units of something called the “R-Division,” an elite SWAT-style force tasked with keeping the undead in their place by any means necessary, and to — uhhmmmm — re-kill all the “Re-Ans” (the tried and true bullet through the head method being the preferred one) before they can spread their sickness back into the general population. And if all that sounds too damn dangerous for you to go out and participate in yourself, never fear! One of the “R-Division” units is strapped with cameras and is the subject of their very own “Reality TV” show!

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It doesn’t take a student of cinema history to see that the influence of  Paul Verhoeven is pretty obvious here from the outset, and the legion of online critics who have dismissed Re-Kill as being a low grade “Starship Troopers  with zombies” are, in fact, pretty much correct — right down to the fake recruiting commercials that pepper the proceedings every 15 minutes or so. It’s no mystery, then, where screenwriter Michael Hurst is “borrowing” his ideas from, but the same is also true for director Valeri Milev, who apes Verhoeven’s blend of faux-news footage, faux-shaky-cam”found footage,” and traditionally-filmed footage in very nearly the same proportion as Starship Troopers utilized them, and for essentially the same reasons. So, yeah — there really is nothing new under the sun, or in front of the cameras, here.

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As far as the cast goes, Roger R. Cross does a serviceable enough job as Sarge, the leader of our “R-Division” of particular concern, but action film veteran Bruce Payne is more or less wasted as the group’s resident religious fanatic and low-grade martial arts “star” Scott Adkins is completely wasted in a stereotypical “alpha-male” role that is afforded very little screen time and requires no martial arts combat from him whatsoever. I know certain actors want to “branch out” and “try new things,” but seriously — come on.

Which, now that I think of it, isn’t a half-bad summation of Re-Kill on the whole.

 

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In the pseudo-field of cryptozoology, the chupacabra is a creature that’s been moving up the “popularity” ranks in recent years thanks to radio shows like Coast To Coast and, of course, the internet, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before it joined fellow probably- (or should that be possibly-?) mythical monsters like Bigfoot and Nessie on the movie screen. It’s just too bad for the bloodthirsty critter that its cinematic debut comes by way of a thoroughly lackluster un-credited remake.

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Okay, that might be a little unfair since director Alastair Ott’s 2014 indie horror Indigenous isn’t exactly a remake, per se, but it borrows so many elements from Neil Marshall’s The Descent — right down to aping its famous “night-vision” scene — that it may as well be. As evidence for the prosecution I offer the fact that this film centers on five immediately unlikable “adventure tourists” from the US (universally portrayed with zero distinction by Zachary Soetenga, Lindsey McKeon, Sofia Pernas, Pierson Fode, and Jamie Anderson) who head down to Panama for a booze-soaked good time and decide to take in the sights at a locally-renowned waterfall that is either the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen, or a portal into a world of mystery and danger best avoided — depending on who you ask, of course. I don’t know about you, but if even a few of “the natives” suggest to me that a legendary carnivorous  creature lives at a certain landmark, said landmark immediately goes on my “don’t bother to visit” list — but maybe I’m just a chickenshit like that.

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Anyway, they go — we wouldn’t have much of a movie otherwise (come to think of it, we still don’t) — and, sure, enough, “all the stories are true!” and the chupacabra starts picking ’em off, one by one, in increasingly gory fashion. To Ott and his effects crew’s credit, their practical-effects monster is very well-realized and the blood, guts, and viscera flow fairly freely and graphically. These entitled fucking twenty-somethings can’t get killed off fast enough, though, and when you’re rooting for the big, bad, hairy beastie before he’s even showed up, well — you might just have a problem on your hands.

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“Found footage”-style filming creeps into the proceedings from time to time, as you’d expect, but in this case it’s the “as you’d expect” part of that equation, rather than the “found footage” part, that represents the problem — Indigenous (which was recently added to the instant streaming queue on Netflix but is, I’m sure, also available on Blu-ray and DVD) is nothing if not entirely predictable and, frankly, uninspired. It’s such a by-the-numbers affair, in fact, that you pretty much know exactly what’s going to happen in each and every moment of each and every scene. The story “beats” feel like they were churned out onto paper by a computerized screenwriting program, the direction is equally mechanical, and I’ve already bitched about the flat, one-note performances, so there’s no need to go down that road again. I’m very sorry, Mr. Chupacabra — you deserved much better than this.