Zombie Girl Movie Review
Written by ZigZag
Directed by Justin Johnson, Aaron Marshall and Eric Mauck
2009, Region 0 (NTSC), 91 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on November 1st, 2010
Emily M. Hagins
Emily Hagins lives in Texas and spends a healthy amount of time watching movies at the Alamo Draft House in Austin. She and her mother, Meagan, are avid film buffs who share a love for genre pictures large and small. Soon the muse calls, and Emily wants to make her own damn movie — luckily she has parents that are totally supportive and encouraging. She writes a script, holds auditions and is ready to shoot at several locations on weekends and during her summer break from middle school. Emily is twelve years old.
Zombie Girl captures the magic of film production from a child’s perspective. Her sense of wonder and innocence are most prominent as the young director tackles the intricacies of film production with a confidence missing from many low budget productions. After attending a 24 hour film festival with her mother, the idea of making a film is born and soon Pathogen is underway.
Emily knows what she wants and encourages everyone around her to have faith in her vision. She handles the pressures of the job better than many first time filmmakers and her parents help keep the cast assembled and focused. Emily directs both kids and adults through a variety of scenarios filled with zombie mayhem. The actors are interviewed and all come across likeable and sincere, the majority having never acted before.
The most powerful external element driving Emily is her mother Meagan, perhaps the coolest parent in Texas. She is supportive and encouraging and eager to assist in any capacity. The most difficult task Meagan (or any parent) faces is to provide Emily space to make her own decisions. Their relationship is strong enough to survive extended shooting periods and long hours in the editing process. This is nothing to scoff at, especially when the day is over and she has to return to the adult role of mother.
Standing alongside Meagan is Emily’s father, Jerry. He is just as supportive and encouraging but appears to take a more subtle position on the production, maintaining the role of gentle disciplinarian when needed. Watching his daughter do what she loves clearly makes him proud and he is always on hand to encourage Emily’s talents towards both film and music. His versatility can be seen as he instructs his daughter in playing the guitar one day and wrangles zombie extras the next.
Zombie Girl occasionally breaks from the production coverage to interview faces from the Austin film scene. If the production has a fault, it is that there may be too much face time with outsiders. Harry Knowles (Ain't it Cool News) is eager to tell stories of how impressive the girl is, and his website will deliver fantastic endorsements for Pathogen. Everyone interviewed contributed greatly to the making of the film, but the material is strongest when Hagins is around.
The filmmakers have captured a genuine treat in the production of Pathogen, successfully taking a fly on the wall observational stance. They know when to stay out of the way and let situations work themselves out and to allow the director the room to make her film. Emily Hagins may have only been twelve during production, but is already doing her best to ‘Keep Austin Weird.’