I Survived A Zombie Holocaust Movie Review
Written by Charlotte Stear
DVD released by 38 Pictures
Written and directed by Guy Pigden
2014, 104 minutes, Not Rated
Harley Neville as Wesley Pennington
Jocelyn Christian as Susan Ford
Ben Baker as Tane Henare
Reanin Johannink as Jessica Valentine
Mike Edward as Adam Harrison
Andrew Laing as Stanley Martin Patrick “SMP”
Simon Ward as Richard Driver
Mark Neilson as Randy Bateman
Patrick Davies as Greg Winston
Harry Love as Harold Beasley
These days it’s harder to find a zombie film without a ridiculous title than it is with one. What keeps it interesting, though, is you never know whether you’re going to get something truly awful or surprisingly excellent. Joining the latter of those options is the New Zealand flick set to screen at this year’s FrightFest, I Survived A Zombie Holocaust.
The movie follows nerdy, eager-to-please runner Welsey (Harley Neville) during his first day on set of a zombie movie production. After endless demeaning tasks and being constantly embarrassed around the pretty girl he has a crush on, things take an even worse turn when he realises the sickness going round the set is exactly what they’re portraying on screen; a zombie outbreak. Wesley and a team of misfits from the set find themselves fighting for survival against the real living dead.
It might seem lazy to compare I Survived A Zombie Holocaust to Peter Jackson’s early work because of the New Zealand connection, but there is an influence and style that definitely echoes the likes of Dead Alive. There’s a high body count, plenty of guts and gore, but most importantly- genuine laughs. Guy Pidgen may only be on his second feature film, but making a fully balanced horror-comedy film like this takes some skill that is promising for his future endeavours.
The film works because of the well written script and the comedic timing of the cast. Taking the lead is Harley Neville, his facial expressions and delivery really bring love towards the awkward Wesley, it’s much needed as initial interest in the film hangs on this one character. Looking further, there are so many great performances, two standout characters are the director (Andrew Laing) and Tane (Ben Baker) who are not only amusing to watch, but also have layers to their characters. The director’s storyline takes a particularly dark turn as we see him on the verge of madness which is really grim stuff. Later there are heartfelt moments between Ben and Wesley which, impressively don’t feel out of place. Maintaining this kind of emotion while there are some ridiculous gross zombie flesh eating moments is a feat to be proud of.
The film does take a while to get going and at times feels more like a comedy than horror, but it soon finds its pacing, though it could easily lose 20 minutes of its run time to make it feel a little snappier.
It’s always fun to see a film be well aware of itself and when the cameras are rolling on the movie they’re making (how very meta!), it’s fun to see the hideous clichés people like to think horror movies are. Then when the cameras turn off, we get something fresh and feisty. It’s reminiscent of Feast in how it turns stereotyped roles on their heads, but gives us something altogether new.
Everything about this movie is loud and crass, but with its tongue firmly in its cheek there is no other way to take it than just damn good fun. It goes all out and has no apologies, and that is pretty damn fabulous.