Archives for posts with tag: epidemic

Zombinator

The filming of a fashion documentary furnishes the pretext for a film crew to follow a group of college students around Youngstown, Ohio, on what turns out to be night the city is hit by a zombie plague. Unfortunately, those lured by the inviting sight of the zombie cyborg featured on the cover of The Zombinator are bound to be a bit disappointed, as no such creature actually appears in the film.

The title character (Joseph Aviel) is an Afghanistan veteran trying to save Youngstown and the United States from a military-industrial undead plot being executed on the ground by “war hero” the Colonel (Patrick Kilpatrick) and his team of greedy mercenaries. The young people, meanwhile, spend most of the movie whimpering, cowering, running, and trying not to get bitten.

The film crew’s presence in the story suggests a postmodern self-awareness on the part of The Zombinator‘s makers, but it also presents some puzzling questions. They seem to be an unusually caddish lot, even for movie industry professionals, considering that they continue to shoot with apparent indifference as their associates are attacked, neither lifting a finger to help during combat nor even alerting a group of sleeping girls as the zombies sneak up on them.

The Zombinator achieves an adequate level of suspense, even if the zombies and story are nothing new or particularly special; and occasionally bathetic humor offers a welcome break from the scenes of horror and mediocre action with CGI blood and fake gunfire. Shame on The Zombinator, though, for baiting the audience with the tasty prospect of a zombie-Terminator hybrid and instead delivering a regular old hungry carcass flick.

3 out of 5 stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Zombinator is:

9. Anti-tobacco. A cigarette is a “cancer stick”.

8. Racist! A horny black dude stupidly opens a door for some zombie sluts. Paranoid and self-absorbed congoids are apt to assume that even the basement of a Catholic school might be a secret hideout for the KKK. End credits feature a vicious ghetto zombie in a hoodie.

7. Anti-family. Marcus (Justin Brown) was abused by his father.

6. Class-conscious. The 1% gets name-dropped, as does the gentrification neighborhoods of Youngstown are said to be experiencing. “It’s more like civilized murder now.”

5. Anti-Christian. The Zombinator is generally irreverent toward Christianity. A rotten-faced rock singer wears a clerical collar; one Youngstowner recalls seeing a bullet hole in a church bathroom; and priests (one of whom smokes) are ineffective at thwarting zombies. God, meanwhile, is “the one who’s got the biggest dividends.”

4. Anti-Y. Generation Y appears as a wimpy, idiotic, and superficial lot, the Colonel’s suggestion that they are truly “the greatest generation” coming across as masked sarcasm.

3. Anti-cronyism/anti-Obama. “But what about change?” cries a stupid liberal on learning that she and her friends are guinea pigs in a government bio-terror scheme. “What about what everybody voted for, against big corporations?”

2. Antiwar. America’s rulers preside over an empire, not a progressive wonderland, and ignorant young people’s mindless mouthing of patriotic admiration for soldiers rings unmistakably hollow. Afghanistan is a testing ground for biological agents, with soldiers used for deadly experiments.

1. Anti-state and N.W.O.-alarmist, promoting those darned conspiracy theories. “This is government shit, dude,” suspects one of the filmmakers. “If the world doesn’t see this, this is gonna happen everywhere else, too.” Later, the Zombinator explains that, “They have a cure, but they will not use it until it gets so big, after Youngstown is gone, and then they’ll present it on the market and make billions . . . billions and billions on your corpses.” So forget that crap in Contagion (2011) and World War Z (2013) about the valiant public servants over at the CDC and the WHO. This is the real deal.

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antisocial poster

A future film historian compiling a list of the most representative and sociologically reflective horror films of the present decade could do worse than to include Cody Calahan’s feature debut, Antisocial. Redolent of the contemporary fears of intrusive surveillance, vile conspiratorial plots, drones, martial law, cyber-bullying, terrorism, flash mobs, viral epidemics, internet addiction, and civilizational collapse, Antisocial is more than a mere splatter film.

A gaggle of vapid college coeds gather to throw a New Year’s Eve party, unaware that the sudden outbreak of a 28 Days Later-reminiscent rage plague will soon have them barricading themselves inside and suspecting themselves and each other of infection. And what role does ubiquitous website the Social Redroom play in the chaos? “If you’re not on Facebook,” some have suggested, “you’re probably a sociopath.” Antisocial, thankfully, begs to differ with this assessment.

The story wastes little time in getting to the action and suspense, which is fresh while also respectful of genre conventions and traditions, with the themes, scenario, and spare, electronic moments suggesting influences from George Romero, David Cronenberg, and John Carpenter. A guaranteed good time; recommended to horror fans.

4 out of 5 stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Antisocial is:

6. Anti-Christian. Some respond to the epidemic by holding exorcisms, but the explanation for the plague turns out to be decidedly more sublunary. A newscaster’s wish of “Happy New Year, and may God be with you,” rings hollow given the situation on the ground.

5. Gun-ambivalent. The partiers are frightened by shots from outside, but it is unclear whether these are from the police or private citizens.

4. Pro-slut, pro-miscegenation, and anti-racist. Heroine Sam (Michelle Mylett) is pregnant with some guy’s bastard. Cheap tramp Kaitlin (Ana Alic) is an item with black dude Steve (Romaine Waite). As the two are making a sex video, one of the afflicted bursts in on their fun through a window. The fact that the attacker appears to have a skinhead haircut may be intended subtextually to suggest lingering racism and resentment among whites toward those who choose to mate outside the species.

3. Feminist. “Final girl” Sam, once forced to fend for herself at the end, has little difficulty adjusting to the role of the badass. A bandage she ties around her head gives her the martial appearance of an Apache warrior.

2. Media-critical and anti-corporate. Social Redroom executives have secretly implemented a subliminal pattern designed to induce addictive behavior in visitors. Characters are unsure whether to trust material coming out of the mainstream media and look, rather, to grassroots sources of information available online.

1. Luddite. The title, Antisocial, serves a dual purpose, referring both to the nasty behavior of the afflicted and to the film’s critical stance toward social media. The script is full of apprehensions about a world in which “private life is public knowledge”, cruelty is as easy as clicking a key, and lovers break up remotely, by way of handheld devices.

Appropriately, social media darling Kaitlin and her boyfriend are among the first to develop symptoms. Sam and Jed (Adam Christie), who have deleted their Social Redroom accounts, retain their sanity longer than others. “How do you keep in touch with people?” Kaitlin asks. “I see them in person,” Sam deadpans. Significantly, Sam later repurposes a laptop as a murder weapon.

The internet itself is not necessarily to blame, and an online video actually provides the means of overcoming the crisis. What worries Antisocial, however, is the addictive potential and hive mind pull of ubiquitous sites like Facebook. Fear of mass loss of privacy also looms large, and in one of Antisocial‘s more outrageous moments, Social Redroom users’ bodies function as organic surveillance devices.

 

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The zombie apocalypse genre has come a long way culturally since its invention by George Romero with Night of the Living Dead. That prestigious leading man Brad Pitt now stars in a $190,000,000 zombie movie from Paramount says quite enough about how firmly the ravenous hordes of corpses have ensconced themselves as a mainstream phenomenon. World War Z, the resulting film, happily rises above its origins in a pop horror fad and delivers the goods both in terms of suspense and as grist for speculative consideration, with director Marc Forster rising to the occasion and producer Pitt’s extracurricular interest in international philanthropy only slightly marring an otherwise exciting and rewarding adventure. Imagine, in short, 28 Weeks Later, but with more faith in human nature and hope for species survival.  4.5 stars. Recommended, but not for the faint of heart.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that World War Z is:

10. Moderately pro-castration.  United Nations errand boy Gerry Lane (Pitt) is an exemplar of the sensitive man, a homemaker who cooks breakfast for his wife and daughters. Thankfully, Lane mans up fast when the action necessitates.

9. Anti-police. One officer rudely knocks the driver’s side mirror off Lane’s vehicle, and another is seen participating in the looting of a store, taking no interest in the violence happening around him.

8. Progressive/pro-philanthropy. “Movement is life,” Lane advises in Spanish in the context of trying to convince a Hispanic family to leave the precarious safety of their apartment. Lane resolves the global crisis in Taoist fashion when he discovers that humanity’s hope lies in the emulation of its weakest elements. “Help each other,” Pitt says at the end over images of unfortunate Third Worlders in a moment that would make Bono misty-eyed with pride.

7. Feminist. Tough Israeli soldier Segen (Daniella Kertesz) with her buzz cut and resourcefulness represents the unsexed woman warrior ideal.

6. Pro-family. Lane cares deeply for his wife and daughters and agrees to come out of retirement only with the intention of protecting them.

5. Multiculturalist. World War Z goes out of its way to depict compassionate people of different races showing consideration for each other (cf. nos. 3 and 4).

4. Zionist. The special historical experience of the Jews as a persecuted people has spurred them to a greater level of preparedness than other nations; their protective wall was thus completed just before the zombie apocalypse went global. Look to the Magic Kingdom for guidance, the film seems to say (cf. nos. 3 and 5).

3. Immigration-ambivalent and anti-Arab. World War Z sends some mixed and confusing signals here. Israel, even after the zombie outbreak, continues to allow controlled Palestinian immigration on the principle that every human allowed to come under their protection is one potential zombie less to fight in the future. “It’s too late for me to build a wall,” Lane reflects in reference to America’s situation (zombie or Mexican?) when he witnesses the initial success of the Israeli security system. Unfortunately, the immigrant infiltration proves subversive when the obnoxious wailing of Palestinian refugees on a microphone drives the zombies outside into such a frenzy that they pile on top of each other to scale the wall like an angry ant swarm. Arabs, serving an inadvertent Trojan horse function, are thus equated with the mindless zombies (cf. nos. 4 and 5).

2. Statist/pro-NWO. The valiant internationalists of the United Nations and the World Health Organization are Earth’s only hope.

1. Green. A lame opening credits montage suggests that climate change is responsible for the rabies-like plague ravaging the planet.

[UPDATE (11/18/13): Richard B. Spencer of the National Policy Institute offers his insights into World War Z in an engaging and articulate YouTube talk here.]

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