Toxic Lullaby Movie Review
Written by TGM
Written and directed by Ralf Kemper
2010, 92 minutes, Not Rated
Samantha Richter as Eloise
Noah Hunter as Bretoria
Eva Marie Balkenhol as Penny
Christian Sprecher as Ziko
Franz Hofmann as Der Mann
Reinhold Sievers as Herr Dieter
Nina Schlegelmilch as Veronika
Toxic Lullaby is the story of the free-spirited Eloise and her boozing friends as they casually travel the German countryside stopping only to drop LSD while picnicking under lush trees. After awaking from a particularly bad acid-trip, she finds herself in the midst of a full-out zombie apocalypse. Think Alice in Wonderland meets 28 Days Later.
The pacing of Toxic Lullaby is superb, showcasing a relentless momentum that constantly propels the story (and our protagonist) forward. Eloise continually stumbles upon random pockets of survivors, some generous and helpful with others as dangerous as the zombies themselves. Evidently there is a short supply of kind-hearted individuals in this post-apocalyptic world, with a myriad of desperate uninfected cannibals, incestual rapists, and militant crackpots peppering the desolate landscape. Of course, the underlying drug context makes you wonder if any of this is indeed real or simply an extension of Eloise' chemically induced nightmare. The very end intentionally throws a bit of a curveball that will make you question your own interpretation on this matter, but it becomes rather obvious as to what really is going on here.
The biggest flaw in Toxic Lullaby (and there aren't many) would be that the main character of Eloise is not particularly likeable. She is introduced as a moody, self-absorbed neo-hippie, then spends the majority of the film acting more aloof and cranky than anything else. Some may also be turned off by the overall lack of character development, but that is often the trade-off for maintaining such an unrelenting pace. There never seems to be much time for Eloise to wax-poetic, which is not such a bad thing. I will also concede that some of the fight choreography is a bit on the awkward side, with a few too many goofy roundhouse punches that would put Adam West's Batman to shame.
Zombie purists may have issues with the portrayal of the infected in Toxic Lullaby. These particular mutants, dubbed "sleepers" due to their penchant for going into hibernation mode during the day, are more akin to the fast moving zombies of Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later rather than the lumbering undead usually showcased in George A. Romero's work. Unless your zombie movie takes place entirely within the confines of an abandoned farmhouse, these nouveau speedster zombies are much more interesting to watch and represent an overall greater threat.
I hesitate to mention that Toxic Lullaby was originally a made-for-television movie in Germany that was subsequently released on DVD. I don't want to foster any preconceived notions as to what to expect here. This is not some castrated American network television production bound by the constraints of the FCC. There are plenty of well-done scenes of violence, showcasing blood, guts, and gore, yet none of it comes across as gratuitous or existing purely for shock value. With that said, writer/director Ralf Kemper is currently seeking a U.S. distribution deal, which should be a no-brainer considering the quality of the story and production. Hopefully Toxic Lullaby secures the domestic release it so rightfully deserves.
Video, Audio and Special features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.