I Love Sarah Jane (2008)

Director Spencer Susser
Writers David Michod, Spencer Susser
Starring Brad Ashby, Mia Wasikowska, Vladimir Matovic, Beau South, Peter Yacoub
Genre Zombie
Run Time (minutes) 14:16

Talk us through it

Jimbo is 13th years old, has survived the zombie apocalypse, and is living every tween's dream. There's no adult supervision, personal hygiene is not a requirement, and he has some mates to hang out with. Also inhabiting Jimbo's world is Sarah Jane, the love of his life. Things can't get much better really.

All would be well with the world, forgetting for the moment the whole four horsemen of the apocalypse thing, if resident bully Joey had of pulled his head in a bit and perhaps been a tad more careful in his dealings with the undead. Thankfully Sarah Jane is on hand to sort things out much to the pleasure of the besotted Jimbo.

Can love bloom among the ashes?


It would seem that short film makers Down Under have cottoned onto the idea that zombie flicks are cheap to make, have a ready audience, and can make a statement on the human condition if given the room to breathe. Director Spencer Susser has jumped on the moldy corpse, given it a bit of an airing, and presents a unique take on surviving in the aftermath. Don't expect the same movie you have seen about five hundred times before, I Love Sarah Jane rocks to a completely different tune and was a breath of dead air for this Reviewer. Just when you think you have seen or read everything a zombie outing can deliver someone rocks it out again.

Susser opens his movie with one of the best scenes yet in a zombie flick. The camera pans down a street filled with images of utter carnage. It's a bleak outlet and Susser lights it beyond normal levels to highlight the devastation. In a 1970s flick you would expect the landscape to be a result of a recent nuclear blast. We are immediately introduced to central character Jimbo who is happy enough cycling through the wastelands bow and quiver on his back and the photo of a young lady on his handlebars. It's compelling enough stuff, and given the film is entitled I Love Sarah Jane there's no prizes for guessing who the subject of the photo is. Susser is hinting early in the piece that things are sort of going suburbian normality in a world where the spring cleaning has been forgotten.

The Director paces his movie well as we are next introduced to Joey, the local bully, two kids about Jimbo's age, Rory and Gram, and of course Sarah Jane. Susser keeps the introductions economical and it's through the different character's actions and interactions that we find out about them. Jimbo dotes on Sarah Jane, who is some years older, and abandons his "mates" to go sit with the object of his desires. Sarah Jane for her part seems withdrawn from the events happening around her, and I took from the film that she is in shock and trying to come to terms with the new urban landscape. Joey is simply that older kid who loves nothing better than victimizing people weaker than himself, "zombie juice", and who believes he's indestructible. Rory and Gram are your typical urban brats taking advantage of the situation they find themselves in and developing their own forms of entertainment. Kids shouldn't throw rocks at zombies, even if said undead person is tied up, don't they have a console game to attend to like any other self respecting juvenile delinquent. Susser let's his characters speak for themselves without the sort of pragmatic direction that detracts from many higher budget outings.

Susser also allows us to get a picture of what is happening in the wider world, albeit from one viewpoint and restricted to Australian shores; did the zombie apocalypse only happen in this country? Sarah Jane is inside watching a news report on television, society still functioning in some form; the news article informs us the situation is slowly spiraling out of control. Viewers are urged not to leave their dead in the streets for army pick up anymore. I was reminded of the early scene in Romero's Dawn of the Dead where a television crew are doing the best they can to remain on air and give out information, regardless of the growing chaos outside and the increasingly out of date data they are broadcasting. Susser doesn't make his statement as explicit as Romero but you can pick up on the indications if you listen to the news report.

Whether or not the film is trying to make a strong sociological message remains moot for the most part, it's a zombie flick folks.

Intruding unwanted on Sarah Jane's world, Jimbo seems to be tolerated, are first Rory and Gram and then Joey, the three interlopers are not appreciated and bring a sense of chaos into Sarah Jane's careful constructed bastion of normality. It's a subtle point but I was howling at the moon when Susser went with this approach, thankfully no neon sign posts, take from the movie exactly what you want to put into it. Jimbo is shown to be more of a thinker, in a sort of abstract aspergers fashion, then his three thoroughly bogan peers. I picked up that events in I Love Sarah Jane are set in the Western Suburbs of Sydney or whatever the equivalent is down in Melbourne. Naturally the North Shore of Sydney wouldn't dream of having something as disgusting as zombies littering up the streets, there's probably a local ordinance to that effect or something. Zombies must be kept on a chain at all times and any decaying flesh falling off them placed in the Council provided zombie bags.

The final aspect of the film I wanted to note was Sarah Jane filling in as a sort of surrogate mother character when the rotting flesh hit the fan of destiny. While Sarah Jane and Jimbo are watching television inside, the ever resourceful Joey has managed to blow up a zombie outside with the liberally application of gasoline. All Sarah Jane hears is a loud "boom" and she's out of her chair and through the back door to see just what the hell is going down. Parents will immediately recognize this and no doubt have themselves charged outside on occasion to check the little bastards in their care haven't rammed a firecracker up the dog's arse or set the garage on fire. Like most Mom's Sarah Jane immediately takes command of the situation, does the hard yards, and storms back inside much to Jimbo's admiration. All that was missing was Rory and Gram receiving a clip around the ears. We're talking parent of the year award here folks.

As a movie maker Susser is kicking a major here, besides the general depraved look to things, talk about letting your standards slip, the Director keeps his focus throughout the fourteen minute running time and seems to have an instinctive knowledge of when to use close ups and when to go middle ground. It's a strong presence and Susser has this baby collared and begging for its food. Simply sensational set constructions, this does look like the end of the world down bogan central, and Susser uses the grime and decayed atmosphere to its full extent in delivering a movie that should be nihilistic but that somehow rises above the shattered remnants.

In the final head shot you take what you want from this movie and are a better person for having seen it. Brad Ashby (Jimbo) and Mia Wasikowska (Sarah Jane) dominate and let their expressions do the talking, something main stream Boredwood Actors should take note of.

ScaryMinds Rates this short as ...

An excellent example of what can be done when thinking outside the square.