Reviewbr> "You are always paying the price for the actions of past generations" - Mr Fields
Back in colonial far North New Zealand a Pakeha, Jean-Luc Noir, in pursuit of native land is responsible for burnt Maori villages, a kidnapped Maori Chief, and no doubt other heinous crimes. Naturally this doesn't go well for him as the locals are Cannibals and a spit roast is call of the day. Jean-Luc's bones are cursed for no apparent reason, if they enter water they will taint that water, hey don't ask me I just work here.
Editor's Note: Pakeha is a term for a white New Zealander, dude explain the local lingo!]
In present day Taniwha territory a group of Students are discussing the evils of the world with Mr Fields, their environmental teacher. They learn that a rich American has brought up local land, including a river, and plans to build a luxury resort. Naturally this doesn't go down well with our budding environmentalists and they are soon picketing the proposed building site. Naturally this doesn't stop the wheels of progress and a digger is soon excavating near the river, in the process dropping some old bones into the water. Naturally the curse is soon activated with anyone who drinks water from a certain river turning into a flesh craving zombie! Awesome, our group of students and their long haired hippy teacher are soon knee deep in ghouls, ancient Maori curses, and the Kiwi bush.
[Editor's Note: Taniwha is a Maori word for a mythical water dragon, and also refers to Northland, which is not surprisingly the northern most province of New Zealand, where the movie is set yo! Think I have that right].
Considering the lack of resource this is a movie that the makers should be more than proud to have on their resumes
Kia Ora Jman in! One of the best parts about writing for the ScaryMs is that the site isn't afraid to front up to Independent movies and give them the same exposure as mainstream Studio efforts. And you don't get much more independent in my mind than a zombie movie made by the Students of Taipa Area School. Yeah I had never heard of it either, hey I'm an Aussie, your excuse would be? Anyways slight confession time, I didn't mention to the Fear North Crew I was grabbing a copy to review, so apologises in advance to any of that team reading for that mild deception. Equally this review isn't going to be as critical as say one I would do of a David Blyth movie, totally different budgets. Let's get a rock and rolling with the actual movie.
Guess we'll tackle the script first as it isn't too bad in a sort of throw everything into the blender, hit high speed, and then see what we can divine from the result way. We get a Maori curse, check that's working can dig the premise, zombies on the rampage for human flesh, always going to be highlight, and the root course of the trouble, greedy land developers. That's about par for the course for a zombie horror movie, well okay insert another native people in place of Maori, and you have probably stumbled across this premise previously. I was right across this aspect of the movie, it loses nothing in translation. Where things come slightly off the rails is with the melodramatic themes the Script writers seem to want to get across, and make something of a shambles of, and the supernatural elements that are left pretty much high and dry. Two characters, Xavier and Yarra, are supposed to have something approaching mystic powers, but it really goes nowhere positive beyond Xavier picking up the dream message from the woman in black who is haunting a number of dreamers. Overall I'm still going to give the script a passing mark, although it tries to fit a tad too much into the movie and does tend to get slightly over dramatic in places.
Okay where things are going to get slightly rocky for the average viewer is with the fight sequences, once things roll this movie pretty much is all flight or fight, not complaining guys. Some fight choreographing was definitely needed as notably most hits are either pulled at the last moment or do not connect. Of course if we wanted to be real bitchy we could blame the Editors for not doing their job probably in regards this aspect of Fear North. So don't expect fair dinkum fight scenes, you'll for sure know you are watching a movie. Two thumbs up however for the variety of garden implements brought into play, Bunnings should have sponsored the Production costs! A nice touch would have been a lawn mower as a wink to Braindead, but hey that might just be me.
Overall the movie gets where it's going visually without hitting too many speed humps on the way. We are swept up in a prologue sequence that should have been cut to be perfectly honest as the narrator, yes the movie has a narrator, explains all we need to know even though it's not entirely visualised. Once in the present we meet our main cast, narrator introduces them one by one and provides the main focus for their characters, thankfully avoiding the slut, the jock, the nerd, the good girl, etc stereotypes. And then it's on with the action. Actually have to admit quite enjoyed the first zombie attack, dude gets brained with a pot, outstanding! Things develop well, both visually and script wise, as the movie advances, with our main characters being whittled down one by one in generally pretty gory fashion. Hey this is a school project and they are throwing blood and guts at the screen! I demand they all get detention immediately.
There are a couple of elements to the movie that show some talent is involved in amongst the extras clearly enjoying themselves. Someone has been watching a few too many Yank horror flicks because we get a whole parcel of standard horror tropes. We're talking mobile phones being out of range, a group splitting up, etc. I kind of dig the horror standards if used cleverly and here thankfully they are in this movie. Recently here at the ScaryMs we have been putting the final touches on the outline for the second part of our "The Real Zombie Wars" article series and surprisingly Fear North was pretty spot on the money with the whole zombie shuffle. You have your trad zoms, the cursed thing, your rom zoms, there's definitely a touch of the Romeros here, and a debate about the monsters not being zombies at all but victims of an infectious disease. Pretty simply all zombie bases covered, and in the wash up Fear North doesn't buggarise around with any "how many zombies can dance on the head of a pin" arguments, calling a decaying flesh eater a zombie. Got to love the non-horror PC crowd who simply want to knock out a movie, you can take your pedantic interpretations and feed em to the ghouls.
Running out of room here. There are a few problems with lightening from time to time, and just maybe an issue or two could be raised about the continuity between some scenes, but hey there's not a hundred and one person film crew getting stuck in here. On the bright side the sound is pretty spot on, normally one of the things amateurs really get wrong. You won't miss a minute of dialogue, everything is clear and easy to understand, even with those Kiwi accents.
Before I close out here, missed a whole bunch of stuff as well, one of the highlights of the movie is Sam, Electra, and Lydia going Xena Warrior Princess on zombie arse, check out the movie for that development it's well worth the time spent in Country.
Speaking of which the acting is pretty much a mixed bunch, not going to single anyone out here, but what exactly are we expecting, Meryl Streep shooting for another Oscar?
The soundtrack, which is pretty much of the cock rock variety - thankfully no rap, was provided by Clay Barnett, Jack Lloyd Jones, Cedric Richards, and Sandra Brace. Now okay I'm up for screaming guitars like the next bloke, but they were slightly overwhelming in this movie. The soundtrack isn't one of the strengths of Fear North, but throw some lyrics on, release on an EP and I'm knocking pensioners out of the way to get a copy down JB on release day.
Just covering all facets here folks, T&A isn't happening - hello school project, and while there's plenty of blood and guts going down the makers of Fear North missed the horror boat in terms of the chill factor. Still I guess Gorehounds are going to be happy enough.
So I scored a copy of Fear North and sat down expecting to watch another amateur zombie movie ego trip. What I got was a movie that was a bit rough around the edges but which showed a hell of a lot of promise, the Fear North Crew can be justifiably proud of their efforts with this one. Sure it doesn't have the polish of a Studio flick, but equally $30 million didn't get poured into this movie. Actually throw a few more cameras, a choreographer or two and some sort of budget at these kids and we might just be in for a shock with what they can achieve. I'm giving the Crew a B+ on this movie and would urge all true fans of the dark genre Downunder, or even OS, to dig deep and show some support here. If whoever runs the film program up at Taipa Area School is reading, then throw us a haunted house flick next time Bro or Bro-lena!
If after a copy of Fear North then check out Trade Me, it's sort of like a Kiwi eBay. Anyways do a search for zombie movies and you should be right. Cost is under $20 bucks and no doubt if you drop the sales people a line they'll work out a P&H option for ya.
I just got to say, Adrian Rennie and Sue Maloney, there's a couple of recommendations that will have dark genre fans seeking this one out! Kiwi dark genre film makers really do need to learn to market themselves, hint imdb.com is a requirement. Okay I'm finished, go about your business, and order a copy of the movie asap!