Directed by John Geddes
Distributed by Vivendi Entertainment
If I were to say that, oh, indie zombie flicks are a dime a dozen, it’s possible I might actually be overvaluing them somewhat. While it seems as though the current era has nothing on the ‘90s as far as the glut of gut-munching flicks goes, the past decade’s success of the Dawn remake, 28 Days Later, and the comics and television phenomenon The Walking Dead has all but ensured that we will be inundated with low-budget flicks featuring the undead and post-apocalyptic landscapes for years to come. And, of course, there will undoubtedly be a couple dozen terrible movies for every occasional good film that manages to show up.
Fortunately, Exit Humanity is one of the better movies of its type.
Subtitled A Zombie Saga, Exit Humanity opens during a Civil War battle in which a lone zombie happens to pop up and disrupt the proceedings. Cut to six years later, and we discover that the undead have begun to overtake the land. Enter Edward Young (played by newcomer Mark Gibson, very good here), a Civil War vet who has just lost his wife and son to a zombie attack. Angry, deeply depressed, and suicidal, Edward stays his self-execution long enough to carry out one final task: He will deliver his son’s ashes to the banks of a waterfall he’d promised the boy they would one day visit. Along the way he runs across Isaac (Adam Seybold, also great), a determined survivor in this zombie-strewn landscape. Isaac saves Edward from a zombie, only to enlist him in his own mission: He must rescue his sister from the hands of an evil general who is using captured human beings as test subjects in order to find a cure to the zombie plague.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. With a concept that could have been easily treated with all the respect of Asylum-level drek, Exit Humanity does a wonderful job of taking its story seriously and presenting a world which is wholly believable, even with its outrageous conceit and revisionist history. The actors are all very good, the locations and photography are just gorgeous, and the somber/twangy/horror-tinged musical score is one I would gladly own. The makeup effects are all solid as well, even if a bit more variety would have been appreciated in the look of the ghouls.
That’s not to say that Exit Humanity is a home run, however. The opening twenty minutes or so do a great job of keeping the viewer at arm’s length, what with its rampant narration (from Brian Cox, fantastic as always) and frequent animated sequences. As stylistic flourishes go, they work well in moderation (indeed, as they do for the remainder of the film). But it’s nearly impossible to become engaged with the story initially due to these choices and the slightly off editing in some early scenes. In addition, the movie loses a bit of focus in its second act when our hero gets sidelined for a stretch.
Still, even with those issues, Exit Humanity is one of the smarter and more emotionally engaging indie horror flicks that I’ve come across this year. Kudos to its makers for stressing character above action and emotion over gore and bloodshed. Future zombie flicks should take note.
Vivendi has given the film a decent DVD. There is hardly an abundance of bonus features to be found, but the image is sharp and the audio crisp. Included with the film is a ten-minute featurette titled Blood, Sweat, and Tears: The Making of Exit Humanity. Honestly, with that title I expected a feature-length doc, but so it goes. What we do get is an entertaining, albeit brief, look at the making of the film. Also included are two audio commentaries (one with the director and his two leads, the other with the director and his producers).
Overall, Exit Humanity winds up being that which is all too rare these days: an indie zombie flick with more heart than guts and more brains than braaaiiins. While I can’t quite call it a must-buy, I wholeheartedly recommend this as a rental at the very least.
3 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5