Brains? (2012)

Sex :
Violence :

Director Giles McNeill
Writers Giles McNeill, Paul Stephanus
Starring Malcolm Gillett, Aidan Grealish, Esmee Myers, Scott Ransom, Sonya Thomas
Genre Zombie
Tagline What is you were the monster?
Run Time (minutes) 6:56


"I've heard that when a human attacks you, sometimes you turn into a human yourself" - Christine

A zombie family are at the dinner table digging into a feed of brains, when a news report warns of humans in the neighbourhood. Having wolfed down their meal, in a fashion that would put The Simpson clan to shame, some post pancreas depression sets in. Shattering the moment, gun shots ring out, which is quite successfully recognised as a human sound. Our four undead diners are forced to form a pack as a human para-military type charges in the front door.

One of the Zombies can't help herself, she can smell brains, and advances on the human which leads to her getting jabbed in the head with a syringe filled with some unexplained liquid. Our remaining zombies break formation and flee, in a stumbling rush, out the back door. The human interloper starts to track them down one by one in a fashion Jason Voorhees would approve of, with tragedy the only outcome. It's a zombie short with a difference, let's stir the entrails and see what Director Giles McNeill has constructed in seven odd minutes.

Jet sent me a draft of his second article on the Zombie Wars where he covers Dan O'Bannon's Return of the Living Dead and has a point to make about the mainstream and their interpretation of what defines a zombie. Which I got to say was a good enough sequeway to review Writer/Director Giles McNeill's short Brains?, a zombie movie set in O'Bannon's universe of brain devouring resurrected dead. Surprisingly McNeill's short not only made the finals of New Zealand's 2012 version of the V48 Hours short movie competition, but won the whole freaking thing as well. So we're talking a short with some pedigree and zombies, what more could you want?

Getting the technical requirements out of the way up front, I don't make movies, if I did they would have a samurai. McNeill delivers a thoroughly professional short that was of course filmed in less than 48 hours. When a Director can knock out a coherent movie with plot and development covered in seven minutes that took less than two days to make, you have to wonder what the frack Hollywood are doing with their huge budgets, long shooting schedules, and army of Writers. Maybe McNeill should head up North and show them how to do things, based on the evidence of Brains? he would certainly be making more coherent and interesting movies than we are currently having to sit through. Brains? is more comedy, think Evil Dead 2, than gut munching horror mayhem, but the results are on the screen and on the plate, and people are getting excited about that shite Warm Bodies! Think I had a point in this paragraph, oh yeah, professional short that can match the best production values you'll find in any market.

As stated this one is more of a comedy than an out and out gore filled zombie movie that goes for the head shot. The viewpoint is from the actual zombies which is fairly unique, yes I've seen other zombie movies in the same slaughter yard, but Brains? is firmly entrenched in our zombie diners and their reactions to the human incursion into their suburb. McNeill is on a winner with the approach, we get subtitles to translate the zombie mumblings and grunting, with the dinner table conversation pretty much being a parody of all those freaking boring Sunday lunches where your Mom decided they should be "occasions". The short almost works as a parody of zombie movies, the human outbreak is under way according to the media, and we're expecting an apocalypse. To be honest this shouldn't work, but McNeill taps its forehead and has the short romping along like a thoroughbred.

What's really interesting is some of the family dynamic, okay as much dynamic as you can push into a seven minute zombie movie. The older zombies, the parents? - have clearly invited Nicky Brick along hoping that daughter Christine will be interested. There's an indication that Nicky is famous for something, but besides taking charge with forming a pack and then breaking it apart, it's neither fleshed, tehehe, out during the course of the film. Christine isn't interested as she has a new boyfriend that is a surprise for the parental units. Standard family details there and a nice touch that firmly fixes the movie beyond its fantasy elements.

Showing his Kiwi credentials McNeill has the zombies learning of the human incursion via a radio report, yes there's zombie FM and it's subtitled for those of us that can't translate grunting. I thought this was a nice touch, having been brought up in a family that constantly had a National radio station playing, rather than the feared dangers that television threatened. Man I missed so much Dr Who. Anyways while Yanks invariably pull out the television to learn what's happening right outside their front windows, Kiwis have radios playing keeping them in touch with breaking news, rugby scores, and farming reports. Actually have you seen Kiwi television? No wonder radios play a more important role in the general lifestyle than in most Western countries.

I was pretty happy with the acting on display here, sorry been out of the Country for a couple of decades so no idea if the cast are well known in Aotearoa or not. We get four believable zombies, the makeup is pretty grunge and effective, and a masked human antagonist that works as the silent killer in an almost slasher context. McNeill is getting the best out of his small cast and uses his actors to fully realise the idea of the short.

Does this count as my short movie review requirement for the year? Actually cancel that, if kiwi shorts are as good as Brains? then expect a few more, I was digging what was on my screen here. McNeill has a story to tell, hits all the requirements, and throws us a reasonably unique vision of what the zombie movie can do. Worth catching a view, and I think the vid is embedded below, good short to tide you over till World War Z hits out in June.

Some website links for you folks. Giles McNeill has a website covering the requirements right here. The Production Company rocks out over here, which actually doesn't have a lot to interest us. And the V48 Hour film festival has a website that I've yet to investigate fully right about here.

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