Who are we kidding? You know damn well what the score is going into any flick called Navy Seals Vs. Zombies — it’s going to be a low-budget action/horror hybrid with as smattering of D-list “stars,” crummy effects, atrocious dialogue, poorly-staged fight sequences, risible acting, and no real point to it.
And to be sure, director Stanton Barrett’s straight-to-video 2015 might-as-well-be-an-Asylum-film has all of that —errrmmmm — going for it. But somehow it manages to pull off the seemingly- impossible task of being both exactly what you expect it to be, as well as something far worse.
When I saw this one added to the horror movie queue on Netflix recently (it’s also available on Blu-ray and DVD from what I gather but, as I’m sure it goes without saying already, you needn’t bother) under its alternate title of Navy Seals : Battle For New Orleans (although it was filmed — and the script explicitly states that it takes place in — Baton Rouge), I figured I’d give it a go just — well, just because, you know? And since I was in the mood for some good, cheesy, brainless fun last night, it seemed an opportune time to give it look sooner rather than later. So I plunked down, hit play, and with an attitude of “come on, how bad could it really be?” in mind, figured I was bound to at least enjoy something about it somewhere along the way.
Big mistake. Barrett and his credited writers A.K. Waters (story) and Matthew Carpenter (screenplay) definitely have the “cheesy” part and the “brainless” part down no problem — but Navy Seals Vs. Zombies is no fun whatsoever.
Here’s the damn thing, though — by all rights, it should be. Think about it : the plot here revolves around an elite Navy SEAL team sent in to rescue the vice president of the United States (played by former NBA star Rick Fox) after he becomes stranded in New Or — err, Baton Rouge following a zombie outbreak. No less than Michael fucking Dudikoff is the leader SEAL leader. Most of the effects are of the practical rather than the CGI variety. There are guns blazing and heads bursting open all over the place. A flick like that is bound to be many things — none of them actually good — but come on, surely it can’t be boring, can it?
Oh, yes it can. And oh, yes it is.
For one thing, Dudikoff’s only on screen for about ten minutes tops, with the supremely untalented Ed Quinn, playing the role of Lt. Pete Cunningham, hogging up most of the rest of the screen time. His team doesn’t exactly appear to be in prime physical condition, for the most part, and these zombies are far from the incompetent shamblers we’re used to, so the fights at least ought to be semi-interesting given that the odds are a bit more evenly balanced — but they’re not. Nor is the story once the basics have been laid out. Nor are any of the characters, who don’t even rise to the level of being bland, one-dimensional ciphers. Nor, frankly, are the “legions” (and by that I mean a few dozen) of the undead themselves, who look like they all spent about five minutes in the makeup trailer before being put to work in front of the camera. There’s just nothing and no one worth giving a shit about on offer here. And so, consequently, you don’t.
From what I understand, Stanton Barrett — being a part-time stuntman and part-time NASCAR driver — is a man of many talents. Unfortunately, filmmaking just isn’t one of them. The lifeless and robotic manner in which he stages all of the scenes here (really, every last one of ’em!) seems indicative of a guy who’s worked on enough movies to think he knows how to make one himself, but really hasn’t learned much beyond a minimal grasp of “point-and-shoot” basics. Sure, he wasn’t given anything even pretending to be a decent script here, and Dudikoff and Fox probably ate up half his budget for the one day they were both in town, but seriously — I’ve reviewed any number of movies on this site that managed to do a whole lot more with a whole lot less thanks to not even inspired, but at least competent, direction. There’s plenty of blame to go around when something is as altogether unsuccessful in every single respect as Navy Seals Vs. Zombies is, but unfortunately I’m going to have to lay the lion’s share of the blame for this unholy debacle squarely at the feet of the director, because even a modest degree of vision and ability probably could have dragged this thing — kicking and screaming, if necessary — up to the level of being “stupid but at least watchable.” This is most definitely the former, but that’s about it.