Oct 26, 2014

Review: Zombie Apocalypse (2011)

Zombie Apocalypse is one of the collaborations between The Asylum and Syfy. It's the kind of collaboration that is sure to disappoint many who happen to tune into the movie on TV or rent it without being aware of who The Asylum really is. There's money to be made on schlock like this though and The Asylum is going to make it. They've practically cornered the market of ultra cheap productions that astound at times with their badness, so good for them.

In terms of production values, this is probably on the higher end in terms of what you usually see out of The Asylum. They've also managed to lasso Ving Rhames and Taryn Manning into starring roles, so there's that I guess. Manning never really got out of the shadows of 8 Mile and Hustle & Flow, but really Rhames? I suppose that movies like Rogues Gallery and Piranha 3D in 2010 signaled the beginning of the end for him, which is too bad.


Genre: action, horror, sci-fi
Directed by: Nick Lyon
Produced by: David Michael Latt, David Rimawi, Paul Bales, etc.
Written by: Craig Engler, Brooks Peck
Music by: Chris Ridenhour
Running time: 87 minutes
Production company: The Asylum
Distributed by: Syfy, The Asylum Home Entertainment, Albatros Film, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Ving Rhames, Taryn Manning, Johnny Pacar, Gary Weeks, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Eddie Steeples, Robert Blanche, Gerald Webb, Lilan Bowden, Anya Monzikova 


The VM2 virus quickly becomes a global pandemic and wipes out 90% of the United States population. Months later, Ramona (Taryn Manning) along with two companions find themselves attacked by zombies and are overwhelmed. Experienced zombie killers Henry (Ving Rhames), Julian (Johnny Pacar), Cassie (Lesley-Ann Brandt) and Mack (Gary Weeks) save the day, but not without the death of Ramona's friend Billy (Eddie Steeples). The group press on and aim to make their way to Catalina where there is a supposed survivor camp.


First thing I have to say about Zombie Apocalypse is just how poorly written it is. The movie is overwhelmingly generic and might as well be a mashup of all previous popular zombie movies that have come out before it. Characters also seem to suffer in the thinking department. For experienced zombie hunters, Henry and his crew are pretty good at putting themselves in tight spots that devolve into identical struggles with zombies every time.

I guess I sort of like the inclusion of different zombie tiers though. You have runners who are newly turned zombies that are at the top of the food chain. Then you also have shamblers who are older zombies and aren't quite as dangerous. The zombies is general are apparently getting smarter over the course of the story, but not enough is really done to actually show that.

The production values seem to be higher than a lot of Asylum movies as I said earlier, but there are a lot of things to nitpick anyway. The most important aspect in that regard are the zombies that look like what regular people would come up with for Halloween. Did the producers just let the extras come into the shoot with their own costumes? Zombie bullet wounds that open up after being shot look awful and there's a lot of green screen usage for backgrounds which has the effect of making the movie look like a cartoon at times.

There are many attempts at creating either tense or emotional scenes that just fail in every way. You know when zombies are going to come and it's impossible to feel anything for characters that end up dying. Neither Ving Rhames nor Taryn Manning are able to make their appearances worthwhile and their roles could've been played by any forgettable actor out there. There should've at least been more of an effort at giving Ving Rhames some halfway decent one-liners.

Action scenes are shaky and muddled because of the camera which moves about non-stop. I get it that it's an attempt at creating some tension, but in this case it's actually lazy film making as well. It's attempt at hiding how bad the zombies look while they're running and also to reduce the need for special effects when it comes to killing them. Every time a character kills a zombie with a sharp weapon, it's off screen because that prevents the need for special effects associated with that killing.

So it's no surprise that Zombie Apocalypse isn't any good. It doesn't really try to do anything different and it disappoints with poor effects, bad zombies and a complete misuse of Ving Rhames. There isn't a single moment in ZA that your pulse will change because it's as lifeless a movie as a real zombie would be. 



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