Director Lowell Dean, who also directed WolfCop (2014), worked with writer Christian Piers Betley, in creating a horror feature similar to the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode “Burden of Proof” as it sets at a forensic training facility nicknamed the body farm, for obvious reasons, and borrows from the thriller Mindhunters (2004). The transportation provided to the students comes in the form of wide-open boats to the island, perhaps as a form to disillusion the trainees and make them understand that the job is not all the glamour that’s on television. Accompanying them is their professor, more military than educational, who gave one a curious glance to the movie Zombie Isle (2014) that uses the same set up to some degree and is there to monitor the situation and grade the final evaluation of a coveted FBI position. A simple plot follows six forensic undergraduate students to the training ground, an original thought, and unbeknownst to them, the former site of illegal biological testing grounds of life-term prisoners.
The actors complete a grueling trip and provide the standard fare, with typical horror world decisions, which letdowns earlier, a deeper character development felt better and needed for this production. Professor Tomkins (Michael Shanks) informs them to divide into teams and examine the 3 bodies on the grounds, sadly they don’t know how to count, and a fourth body remains on the ground, awaiting an opportunity to feed. Although never clearly informed why the zombie waits until now to stalk the ground, unless to take a page from 28 Days Later where the dead starve to death, except he does not appear to have missed a meal. Soon enough, the film turns from a thriller to a zombie picture complete with a revenge storyline. Yet, the commonplace standard of individuals doing stupid things stands firmly in place and extends to the authorities denying all of it. The gore-hounds will enjoy the film, with zombie heads sawed in half, on screen gore galore, guts strung out of the body, fingers munched on, eye gouging, crushing head blows, and one zombie with the most innuendo remarks possible, as she fits a large thick pole into her mouth which a survivor thrust hard into her.
Megan, as Katherine Isabelle (from Ginger Snaps and over 40 horror films) keeps everyone’s attention, with rampaging and constantly infecting the zombie horde and gaining attention and ground on the island. The zombies have some originality, with faces and bodies, rotten cadavers, which sadly seem a tad too beefy to fit the timeline for the story. The problem lately has been that zombie movies fall into the categories of been there done that, and the rapid fire of the films distributions makes it harder on the viewer to keep up and interested in watching, but a solid b-movie with higher level creatures, the thinking learning zombie, that hints to Land of the Dead (2005). One wonders in these films, the zombies speak or express this advancing tinkering, if they are in fact upset about being dead, rotting in a casket, empty promises of heaven unfilled, and pain of death as expressed in Return of the Living Dead (1985). In addition, the film maintains an even pace, and works to build suspense, especially when the students begin probing and hovering closely with the dead. As for the remainder of the cast Brendan Fehr (Daniel) co-stars with Katherine, alum from Disturbing Behavior, and conversely she co-stars with alum from Jesse Moss (Patrick) who stars in WolfCop, as in horror many stars crisscross paths only to come full circle. One must not omit executive producer Roger Christian (Oscar winner) one of a half-dozen producers on the set, always a promising aspect to have on the set, for both reassurance and calmness.
Overall, the direction and special effects truly sell the film, with an entertaining venture into the zombie sub-genre, and brings a touch of Toxie to the storyline with a reference to chemical spills and the cruelty to prisoners, with the experimentation of drugs, and other biological means disregarding them. The ending of the film, really sets a clear tone of both fun for the viewer, and the tension measuring at an equal rate, and setting the stage for comical conclusion.
This review originally posted on Rue Cinema in December 2014 with 1,600 views.
IMDb Rating: 4.5/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10