Pretty Dead (2012)

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Pretty Dead

Starring: Carly Oates, Ryan Shogren, Quantae Love, Emily Button

Directed by Benjamin Wilkins

Ah zombies, those members of the shuffling hordes that we’ve come to know and love. And we do love our zombies, but at some point the hordes begin to blend together and become one big shuffling mass. With this in mind, writers Benjamin Wilkins and Joe Cook came up with a fresh new take on the genre, and this story would become the Wilkins directed film, Pretty Dead.

Pretty Dead follows the mysterious story of Regina Stevens, who’s life took a horrific turn for the worse after a strange reaction to cocaine. See kids, Nancy Reagan knew what she was talking about! Regina suddenly begins to develop some incredibly strange symptoms which inspire her and her fiancĂ© to begin to document the developments of her illness.

Pretty Dead is a recovered footage film, but unlike many offerings using this style of filmmaking, director Wilkins insisted on using only footage that would be reasonably created, such as videos from a party, vacation and marriage proposal. By including only footage that would reasonably be shot candidly, Pretty Dead becomes a much more powerful work.

The true strength of this film is the performance of Carly Oates in the lead role of Regina Stevens. The entire film is a mystery. As Regina’s condition deteriorates, we are presented with two explanations: schizophrenia or a brain consuming fungus that is turning her into the walking dead before our eyes. The gorgeous Oates is absolutely magnetic as we study her increasingly erratic behavior, her violent outbursts and her helpless efforts to understand her situation. Oates comes across genuinely, giving a real believability to Pretty Dead.

Nicely complimenting Oates outstanding work is that of Ryan Shogren as Regina’s fiancĂ©, Ryan. The ultimate nice guy, Shogren’s good-natured and playful performance reminds one of John Krasinski’s memorable character, Jim Halpert, from “The Office.” Shogren creates a very believable character trapped in an extremely unfortunate situation.

Although the practical F/X in the film do leave a bit to be desired, viewers must consider the fact that Pretty Dead was created on a shoestring budget. Keeping this in mind, the film is an amazing accomplishment. Wilkins does manage to give viewers some serious gross-out, OMG moments in completely unique ways. The creativity and ability of these filmmakers to approach the zombie genre in a totally unique way is incredibly commendable.

The zombie sub-genre is currently the most popular in horror, and we’ve seen one undead mob after another ravage a post-apocalyptic landscape. Pretty Dead is an intelligent, unique and completely enthralling film that looks at the undead from an entirely new angle. This one is definitely worth a look.

4 out of 5

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