Reviewbr> “Kiss ain't evil Bro, they're gay” - Paul
New Zealand 1986 and the zombie apocalypse is in full swing, the military are thinking of using artillery, and for three bogans the major issue is their Holden station wagon that has just run out of petrol leaving them stranded in the middle of a cannibalistic zombie horde.
Over the next few days our three fearless metal heads will need to survive on fast food scraps, limited cigarettes, and in an increasingly claustrophobic car. Possibly not helping is one of them has been bitten by a zombie previously and the limited ammunition they have for their slug gun (guess that would be a BB gun for North American readers). Can three bogans out think the zombie horde, or will they become fodder?
I completely missed this one when Weta Studios announced they had a zombie short made by former employees that would be hosted on their site for free viewing. I have zero idea why I didn't watch it at the time. Strangely the short also appears on a couple of the Kiwi short movie sites but for no apparent reason I have never been able to get it to play. Destined not to see the movie I dragged myself through the ruins of civilisation until I chanced across it at youtube.com and was made whole again. I'm calling Zombie Movie the best ever zombie flick to take place almost entirely in the interior of a Holden station-wagon to ever have been made, lets bite into it!
Ben Stenbeck knows exactly what he needs to do in this short, get the protagonists into their predicament with the minimum of screen time used up. We get the car running out of petrol, idea conveyed via noise, with a radio broadcast filling us in on what has happened. Zombie outbreak, authorities losing control of the situation, time to shell the buggers. That's not going to work and neither are the various plans concocted by our three Bogans trapped in the microcosm of the car liberated from Paul's dead Father. From there Zombie Movie pretty much just features our three leads trapped in the car while zombies groan outside and occasionally stare in, showing off the excellent walking dead make-up effects. Relief only comes from the odd gun shot and foreshortened scream from somewhere beyond the car. It's a claustrophobic nightmare, but not what the short is focused on.
Unlike Romero's survivors our Bogan elite, when not concerned about heavy metal bands, have more immediate problems on their minds than the undead outside the car. There's food to be concerned about, the trio are living on the remnants of various fast food indulgences. Cigarettes are at a premium, especially considering two of the three have only just taken up smoking, I don't think anyone can begrudge them that really. Ammunition is in short supply, Paul believes they should conserve it in case they need to shot their way out of the situation. To be honest I'm not entirely sure that a slug gun is going to be that effective, even if you do shoot them in the head in time honoured fashion. And to be honest, considering the toilet facilities are limited to various plastic bags, the air must be getting pretty thick, though popping outside for some fresh air would not be a good option.
Surprisingly Ben Stenbeck follows time honoured zombie mythology with having a retreat to the basement as the last resort in the face of a seemingly futile situation. Way back in Night of the Living Dead (1968) survivor Ben was forced to seek shelter in the farmhouse basement as the ghoulish hordes finally broke in on mass. More recently Shaun, Liz, and Ed, are forced to descend to the dubious shelter of the Winchester basement as the bar is overrun in Shaun of the Dead (2004). Stenbeck follows the same development with having the last exit as a manhole cover leading to a large pipe underneath the car. Naturally it takes till the final minutes for anyone to notice the escape route.
Where Stenbeck and fellow scribe Michael J Asquith depart from the Romero mantra, and god alone knows we need some fresh blood in zombie flicks, is by having the three bogans as more of a danger to themselves than being the victims of other outside forces. Each of our leads is quite capable of worsening their situation as they seek to elevated their own personal issues without the help of the military or some strange clandestine organisation. Word of warning folks, if stuck in a car with bogans during a zombie apocalypse then don't even contemplate assisted suicide, it's not going to end well.
Zombie Movie is well scripted, while the action takes place over a number of days, it's really a long running single scene. The dialogue, which Kiwis will find uproariously funny, rings true for the bogan mindset. And the camera work in cramped conditions is amazingly effective. Ben Stenbeck took a huge bite into the film industry, spat out the gristle, and shows he is yet another Kiwi Director on the rise. Someone fund a feature length with Stenbeck at the helm stat!
I was grooving to Zombie Movie after a delay in sourcing, and had my anticipation for the short blown out of the water. It was a hell of a lot better than I expected, needless to say full recommendation, Ben Stenbeck has delivered a zombie short that deserves to be placed in the “cult classic” basket.