Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dead Air

Review by Dan Collacot

Genre: Zombie/Horror/Apocalypse

Main premise: Terrorists unleash rabies type virus at major sports events across a handful of US States. The virus turns people into cannibals with bleeding eyes - who infect others by bites/scratches.

Narrative: The story focuses in on a Talk Show radio host, his team, the callers and the horrific events that both surround and spill into the studio.

The Good: Sound concept, pretty decent acting (especially Bill Moseley in the lead role) and pretty good US TV show type production values lift this above the standard B-Movie style fare. The film is well paced and the balance of talk and action spot on.

The Bad: I couldn't escape the fact that Pontypool did this whole concept better and that the infected needed to look like proper zombies rather than the halfway house of angry people with bleeding eyes (and occasional animal sound-effects dubbed over them). This adds to the great - 'they're not zombies because they're not dead' debate, yet amazingly despite 'NOT' being zombies the people in this film act a lot like erm...........oh yeah zombies, even appearing to kind of die and then reanimate; or give some indication that the virus keeps their motor running even when they've suffered the kind of abuse that would kill any normal human twice over!

Don't get me wrong the scenes with the infected are pretty well done - Corbin Bernsen (no relation to Corbin Dallas of Fifth Element sadly) knows his genre and audience here.  But a bit of cgi/sfx could have saved the film.  Going 28days/Months Later - with rage style infected - but without making the infected at all convincing kind of grounds this film before it gets to set sail. I think if he had a bigger budget at his disposal - Bernsen could have made a killer movie if you'll excuse the pun.

Lost in translation: Some sort of cod political commentary on racial hatred, Muslims,  misunderstandings and the general US climate of terror and paranoia. This undercurrent feels pretty tokenistic and lame in places, it tries to set the movie apart and add a sophisticatedly mature level to it - but in reality just conjures up a load of waffle to hide a fairly unsophisticated zombie movie behind.

Conclusion: The zombie/virus genre has been scratched and bitten to death in the last five years and for it to work you need either a decent budget and compelling vision or a razor ship spin on an existing theme. This film hasn't quite got either - despite this it is enjoyable enough; but could have gone from a so-so to fairly awesome film had they had been able to go balls out to back up the vision they no doubt had for this movie.

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