Starring Ione Butler, Andrew Asper, Kim Nielsen
Distributed by The Asylum
I went into Zoombies with zero expectations. Which is the perfect amount, considering the title. If you go into a film titled “Zoombies” expecting anything more than mid-level schlock, then you ask too much from this world.
If you start it with this recommended level of anti-hype, you might have a very good time with Zoombies. Take this with a boulder-sized grain of salt, but I kind of liked Zoombies. It’s totally ridiculous, the CG is terrible, the acting amateurish, the premise never even slightly explained, and despite all of that, it’s a bunch of goofy fun.
The film opens with a sloppy PSA commercial presenting to us the concept of a zoo. They wanted to make sure you knew that this was an endangered animal zoo and couldn’t fathom a more natural way to do that other than with an intro that spells all of this out for you. I don’t want to rock your world, Zoombies, but I’m familiar with the concepts of both zoos and wildlife rehabilitation.
We’re soon presented with our cast of—get your Bingo sheets ready now: single-mother science lady in charge just trying to make it all work out, badass action girl trying to prove she can make it in a man’s world, makeup-caked sorority girl who’s totally over it and just cannot manage another day without drink or the D, no-nonsense security man who takes charge but then dies anyway, whiney corporate type who whines about breaking the rules, quirky comedy character who keeps getting into all kinds of awkward situations, child, and no less than seven disposable side characters who exist to be dismembered. If you filled out your card, then congratulations… welcome to every horror movie.
The premise is that they are there as part of an internship training program before the park opens, which gives some space for the experienced characters to make plans and the amateur characters to be bewildered enough to require explaining those plans to. If the film were as interesting as, say, Jurassic Park and therefore required elaboration, it would be a functional way to facilitate that. Given that the zoo is equipped with such state-of-the-art tech as “gates that shut” and “a bird sanctuary,” it’s unnecessary.
What I would like explained is just how the actors managed to keep a straight face through this whole thing since the animals all look like they were generated with computers from the 1990s. I know they can’t see them while making the film, but it’s so fucking bad that a ripple of shame-ghost should have broken through the reality barrier to at least give them some glimpse of just what exactly they were committing to.
Right after the intro the film cuts to a lab with a sick monkey on the table, doctors attempting to save it. I was playing a Total War game while I watched and so only caught a sideways glance of the creature at first. Something inside me reacted like a dog to bacon, and I closed the game, rewound the film, and sat in awe. It was gloriously bad. Terrific shit, but genuine. The face contorted, fur moved, body writhed… it had the hallmark signs of someone trying. Someone DID try to make this monkey look like real monkey. The budget disagreed.
The next hour and a half contain some of the most hilarious attempts at creative editing I’ve ever seen. They seem to have a solid grasp of putting the CG animals on top of someone lying down, but any higher level of action is way too much for their feeble processing power. So instead, a gorilla will charge, a cut will then show the person being thrown back, then it will recut to them on the ground. Maybe I’m spoiled by The Revenant, but I prefer all of my CG action to be on the screen, not just out of focus or heavily implied.
It’s a shame, too, because when they do have the action on-screen, it’s the kind of gloriously bad that lands films like this onto the shelves of hipsters the world round. Tattooed on my brain forever now is the image of a woman being dangled in the air by a giraffe. Truly, technology has gone too far because no words in any poem could describe what these eyes have seen.
It’s unequivocally terrible, but you just have to see this movie. There’s no compliments that can be given, no justification for the paper-thin plot, no praise to be had for the embarrassingly earnest performances, and no excuses for the jarringly bad computer graphics. There’s nothing defensibly good about this movie. What it is, however, is fun.
It’s the genuine treatment of Zoombies as exactly what it is that makes me love it. They knew they were making crap, but there isn’t an ounce of cynicism to it. Everyone’s on board to make this the most enjoyable pile of shit they can, crusted in sprinkles and rich with pungent fragrance. It’s a mountain a crap only a pig could enjoy. Luckily, I’m a pig. And deep down, so are you.