Tonight's return of AMC's Walking Dead had a scene near the beginning where our intrepid band of survivors decide to leave Atlanta for the highway and a military base. Of course a radiator blows on one of the vehicles and they become trapped by a hoard of zombies walking past - that don't seem to smell them or sense their heat. Move along, nothing to eat here. Then, in an even stupider turn of events our cop hero chases after the two zombies who've flushed the innocent little girl out from under a car and the run and run through the woods and rather than just pop off two heads shots with his gun and be done with it, he hides the little girl in a hole by the creek ... an alligator den? ... a zombie corpse hole? No such luck in this series without irony or humor, the little girl escapes unharmed when it would have been so much more satisfying for smarty-pants cop to stuff her in a zombie feast-cave or have some raccoons eat her, or for the zombies to catch her and tear her apart for snacks. Aw, now it's Little Girl Lost.  And why didn't he use his gun? (and he lost his rifle chasing after her) ... so a fake speaker-stone was used to smash in the zombie extras' heads. After the commercial break we'll see if they are now lost on their own - a little side-plot, or if they merrily skip through the forest back to the road and their companions - oh, a worse plot gimmick - she's wandered off on her own and now they must search for her while avoiding zombies. Meanwhile, a screwdriver to the eye of one zombie and some other close zombie kills don't seem to get dangerous zombie splatter on anyone - or it is harmless because our characters aren't afraid of it. This is one dumb show.



Why did I think for a second that this film might be good? It is terrible in so many ways it is hard to know where to begin, other than to say that Hollywood studio system cookie-cutter movie-by-committee produces crap like this. The advance press on the film kept saying how much the filmmakers respected the original 1982 John Carpenter version ... well, if true, they never understood what made the first film so good. 

This version is entirely without suspense, features full-frontal CGI creature effects, terrible casting, a worse script, and feels like a child't connect-the-dots exercise more than a movie experience. Rather than tie this film to Carpenter's 1982 version it feels more like a companion piece to the first awful X-Files movie. In instance after instance the film tries to reference the Carpenter version and lifts bits completely but comes off entirely stale with zero feeling of continuity. They really should make a drinking game as a companion to this version, so you can pound a shot of booze every time you recognize that's from the other film [alcohol poisoning for everyone!]

In horror, what lurks in the shadows and our imaginations is much more frightening than what is seen clearly in the open. Monsters that hint at their presence (or scuttle by quickly) send your mind reeling whereas CGI creatures with insect appendages and toothy maws center-screen and well-lit, just make you want to laugh after the fifth time. Modern horror films speed the action up, now we have fast zombies and a Thing that whips around it's flower-arm and rips organs right out of victims one after another ... your liver ... and your pancreas!  Just as with the slow dumb Zombies in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, it is the relentless, unstoppable creep of evil which is frightening - not the whip-snap of a monster's fleshy tentacle. Duh.

The Gen-X / Gen-Y idiots responsible for greenlighting and ordering certain things be in this movie should be tried and convicted for bad filmmaking. Obviously some studio suits came in with their marketing charts and said the movie needed Americans, blacks and women in order to sell tickets to those moviegoers. It is my recollection of the Norwegian station from the Carpenter version it was all white, male Norwegians. A good story and a good script and the black and female audiences would still have come to see the new version without their surrogates in the film as characters. A good, scary film will draw an audience, every time. This exercise in movie-by-marketing-committee deserves to see a huge loss on this piece of crap.

The lead actress is a blank and a bore and her character - if you can call it that - is just an archetype of the brainy, no-nonsense science nerd with some looks, and is so badly written maybe it isn't the actress's fault. There is no internal logic as to why the senior and veteran members of the Norwegian team would start to follow her or listen to her, or why she suddenly is Sigourney Weaver in Aliens by the end of the film - toting a flame-thrower and treading bravely into the alien's lair. The time period is referenced once at the beginning "Winter 1982" but the hair, clothes and cultural idioms are wrong and nothing else suggests the era - nor does anything suggest the absolute remoteness, harshness and isolation of the place. There are way too many people at the base, way too much equipment, the place internally is way too spacious and the suggestion of the cold and the harsh elements is almost dispensed with it is done so poorly (especially the plastic snow on windshields). 

This is the kind of bad movie you leave the theater feeling like you got mugged.