Starring Philip Brodie, Alix Wilton Regan, Rob Oldfield
Directed by Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates
Distributed by ARC Entertainment
At this point in the modern zombie genre, we’ve been there and done this. World of the Dead (actual on screen title of this sequel) follows a band of survivors as they traverse the decimated English countryside in an effort to reach the coast, where they will be transported to a sanctuary that has, allegedly, contained the viral outbreak.
It’s not a particularly plot-driven film, and that’s okay. The bulk of the run time consists of our heroes navigating endlessly challenging obstacles: a countryside overrun with zombies, a group of vicious rapist punks who’ve turned this disaster into their own twisted playground, etc. As expected, their efforts to hole up or stealthily reach the coastline don’t go according to plan and they’re left desperately trying to survive in this apocalyptic environment.
World of the Dead isn’t a bad film, and I picture zombie die hards out there mining some enjoyment from this premise. The problem is that the movie really never raises the stakes, or escalates in an interesting way. This gives the storyline something of a disconnected/episodic feeling that quickly becomes redundant. Characters find a villa, decide to bunker down for the night and hide. But it turns out they never checked the basement and wouldn’t ya know it? There are zombies down there! The survivors hit the road again, encounter the next tribulation, lose a member, barely escape and keep going. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Beyond that, it doesn’t really give us people worth rooting for. The performances are perfectly fine and the characters are vaguely likable for as much as we’re allowed to know them, but it just doesn’t matter in the long run. We’re never given enough reason to care beyond the fact that we’re told we should. When the survivors find themselves backed into that inevitably bleak final corner, I finally realized I didn’t give a damn about their fate, or anyone else in the film. The camera man would rather watch all his friends succumb to horrifying fates and keep filming rather than, say, drop the camera and fight, but it all adds up to the frustrating experience that is World of the Dead.
It should also be noted that co-director Michael Bartlett doesn’t want you dropping any money on this US release. In an interview he did with Quiet Earth, he explains how co-financiers The Weinstein Company forced them to turn in an unfinished cut of the film ahead of schedule for release. As such, many of the gunshot sounds are out of synch with the action on screen, among other little technical quirks. Bartlett urges fans to wait for the Canadian release, as they’ve actually been given more time to rectify these issues there.
The sole extra on this disc is a making of documentary that covers the standard ground. Nothing terribly special, but fans of the film will probably enjoy seeing this stuff. If anything, it’s neat to see how they achieved a fairly impressive scope on such a limited budget.
As far as PQ/AQ goes, it’s fine. This is a rough-around-the-edges kind of movie, but detail is decent. The audio is aggressive during the action, and well-balanced throughout the quieter moments. Nothing that’s going to level home theaters, but it’s a respectable way to experience the film.
World of the Dead is very average and it overstays its welcome by about ten minutes. If you’ve got to get your hands on this film, Bartlett advises you to wait. Though, for my money, this HD presentation isn’t too bad. I don’t recommend a purchase, though if you’ve just got to have more zombie carnage in your life, it’s an amiable rental.
2 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5
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