Romero 2.0? “Within The Woods Of Undead County”

Posted: July 31, 2019 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Once upon a time, a rag-tag group of ambitious filmmakers headed out to rural Pennsylvania with an amateur cast, a camera, no money, and a dream. The end result, George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead, achieved cinematic immortality not only for itself, but for almost all of those involved in its production.

Fast-forward to 2016 (although it wouldn’t achieve release until two years later, and via Amazon Prime streaming at that) and Nicholas Pontoski crowd-funded a $15K production budget, grabbed some friends, and hoped history might — just might — repeat itself. The end result, Within The Woods Of Undead County, is having a tough time standing out in the streaming queue shuffle. but is actually probably worth your time to check out — provided your expectations are held in check.

We’re talking about fairly standard-issue stuff here, at least in terms of Pontoski and co-screenwriter Justin Stephens’ script, in that we’ve got a quartet of disparate characters — Jocelyn (played by Gabriella Harry), Ashm (Matt Motyl), Kelly (Angela McCormick), and Matt (Cory Handelong) — who have escaped to the sticks in hopes of out-running a zombie plague, only to find there are no “safe spaces” when the shit hits the fan. They’ve gotta learn to trust each other in order to survive, characters may or may not have hidden agendas and motivations, those with skill sets that would lend themselves more ready to survivalist situations are forced to both help and, ultimately, rely on those who don’t, etc. You really do know the drill here, people.

That being said — Pontoski manages to punch above his weight class nicely in terms of practical effects, shot composition, use of natural lighting (or lack thereof), overall production values, and he even manages to coax some slightly-above-average-for-these-sorts-of-things performances out of an obviously (though not painfully) unprofessional cast. If you’re not a seasoned veteran of homemade horror you might find the whole thing to be far below your standards, but shit — if  you’re not “a seasoned veteran of homemade horror,” you’re probably not even reading this site in the first place, am I right?

I am, of course, but I would say that. In point of fact, though, this film is probably of interest only to those who are fans of seeing how filmmakers do a lot with a little, but viewed strictly from that perspective, it’s a flick that’s actually reasonably impressive, difficult as that may be to believe at first glance. It’s absolutely as “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” as it sounds, sure, but there’s a hell of a lot of heart on display here, right down to paying keen attention to the smallest of small details — barring a few fuck-ups that, frankly, detract so little from the overall production that bringing them up would make me sound like an asshole (or should that be “an even bigger asshole”?), so I’ll leave them be.

There’s even a twist or two you may not see coming, for those who appreciate such things (that would be, I’m thinking, most people), and all in all, by the time the end credits roll, you’d have to have one hard heart to say that Within The Woods Of Undead County is anything other than a well-executed, if far-less-than-revolutionary, labor of love that Pontoski and his cohorts have plenty of reason to be at least modestly proud of — assuming, ya know, “modest pride” is even a real thing.

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Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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