Exit Humanity DVD Review
Directed by John Geddes
Written by John Geddes
2011, Region 2 (PAL), 108 minutes, Rated 18
DVD released on 2 July 2012
Brian Cox as Malcolm Young (voice)
Mark Gibson as Edward Young
Dee Wallace as Eve
Bill Moseley as General Williams
Stephen McHattie as Medic Johnson
Jordan Hayes as Emma
War. Huh. What is it good for? If cinematic convention is anything to go by, it's useful for telling a good zombie story. Nazi zombies are in danger of becoming old hat though, so filmmakers have begun to plunder other wars for inspiration. Exit Humanity goes back further than most, set during the American Civil War.
I was wary of Exit Humanity though, not least because the last horror movie I saw set during the same period just so happens to be one of my favourite horror movies of all time. The little known Ravenous, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle is a black comedy horror about cannibalism during the Mexican/American war. It's one of the best horror films I've ever seen, and it irks me endlessly that few even know of its existence. Exit Humanity is not Ravenous, but is interesting enough for that not to matter so much.
It opens on a strong footing, with Brian Cox on narration duties. As voices go, Cox's is second only to Morgan Freeman's in iconoclasm. The man could read a Twilight audio book and make it worth listening to. He doesn't appear in the film, but narrates the diaries of veteran soldier Edward Young, a man who returns from fighting in the American Civil War to find his family dead and the surrounding lands overrun with zombies. He is approached by a fellow survivor who asks Edward's help to save his sister from the clutches of the mad General Williams. We know he's mad because he's played by Chop-Top himself, the great Bill Moseley. Two craggy cult actors are better than one though, and Moseley is accompanied by Pontypool's Stephen McHattie, playing a grumpy surgeon. Their good intentions (curing the zombie apocalypse) are spoiled somewhat by the fact that they're using unwilling human subjects as guinea pigs.
It takes a while to get going, but Exit Humanity rewards perseverance. The gloomy, dull visuals are interspersed with short animated sequences and charismatic performances from its supporting cast. His choice of projects might leave something to be desired, but Moseley can always be relied upon as a watchable presence. I'd venture so far as to say that this is his best performance since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (I hated The Devil's Rejects, alright). His interactions with Stephen McHattie are a highlight, even if McHattie does little aside from quietly grumble and look grizzled as Moseley rants and raves at him. Fans of genre cinema will be pleased to see Dee Wallace pop up too, in a smaller role.
Unfortunately, it tends to suffer when the more experienced actors aren't around. Mark Gibson, Adam Seybold and Jordan Hayes aren't charismatic or interesting enough to carry the film on their own, so Exit Humanity flounders whenever Moseley or Wallace are off screen. There aren't enough zombies to rely upon either. Instead, the characters just sit around looking despondent and hairy. It's far too serious for its own good, the colour palette (aside from the funky animated moments) too grey. It's during the duller moments that the unfortunate comparisons to Ravenous begin to rear their head, lacking that film's atmosphere, wit and verve.
The ending however, redeems a lot of the film's flaws. Moseley returns to the forefront to battle zombies and further torment our hero, bedecked in a wonderful coat. Humourless as it may be, it shows more imagination than most cheap zombie movies. It's as close to a live action adaptation of Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare as we're likely to get.
Exit Humanity is smart, ambitious and well-cast. The premise is a great one, but the film itself has trouble living up to that. It's good, but could have been so much better. As soon as it makes its exit from your DVD player, it's very easily forgotten.
Video and Audio:
It sounds great, but that's mostly because of Brian Cox's glorious timbre. Visually, it's uninspired. The colour palette is washed out and grey. Scenes set in General Williams' underground bunker are too dark.
A documentary entitled Blood, Sweat and Tears tracks all the hard work that went into making the film. It makes the unappealing, dingy setting seem even more disappointing when we see how lovely the forest looks without the silly filters splashed over everything.