It’s somewhat unavoidable that over recent years the zombie movie has been done to death yet won’t lie down. There have been found footage zombies (Diary of the Dead), engineered Nazi zombies (Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz), supernatural Nazi zombies (Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead), comedy zombies (Zombieland), fast viral zombies (…28 Days Later), judgement day zombies (Jeruzalem), ex-significant other zombies (Burying the Ex), family drama weepie zombies (Maggie), space zombies (Last Days on Mars) and Regency zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), not to mention major televised zombies (The Walking Dead), spin-off televised zombies (Fear The Walking Dead) and rip-off televised zombies (Z Nation).
Short of putting a bullet in the head of a studio executive (which would still leave those amateurs with video cameras desperate to unleash their microbudget amateur efforts via YouTube), the tide seems set to continue, and later this year there are to be fungal zombie in The Girl With All the Gifts. What remains to be exhumed? With its UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, director Steve Barker (Outpost) and writer Paul Gerstenberger (House of Anubis) have identified a gap in the market: a live first person shooter theme park with an endless supply of zombies, found at the Rezort.
Opening with a news broadcast that “there was a serious security breach last night” followed by rumours that “Brimstone Protocol has been initiated,” there is then a recap on “the deadliest pandemic that the world has ever known, a virus that creates war between the living and the dead,” before skipping back ten days to tell the story behind the current incident; that the film feels the needs to try to hook viewers by letting them know there has been an outbreak before it happens, always a foregone conclusion in a zombie movie, is an indication of the low expectation to be set.
With two billion dead over three years the virus was finally brought under control, and now seven years later “to create jobs and stimulate the economy” an island has been set up where those survivors who have lingering emotional scars from the global disaster can come to expurgate their feelings by learning how to use a variety of firearms and going on safari to massacre the infected, a subspecies presumably ungoverned by the human rights act.
Under the guidance of “visionary” CEO Valerie Wilton (Claire Goose), the latest arrivals are greeted and taken to their minimal security luxury hotel, where the drinks are flowing but there are no lookouts, no perimeter wall, not even a fence, and all the locks are electric so if there is any disruption to power the pens holding the zombies will open, but none of that matters according to Wilton who believes that “every apocalypse deserves an afterparty.”
Among them are Melanie Gibbs (Arrow‘s Jessica De Gouw), who lost her father in the war, her former soldier boyfriend Lewis Evans (Clash of the Titans‘ Martin McCann), jilted bride Sadie (Elen Rhys) determined to enjoy her wedding gift ticket alone, Alfie and Jack, a pair of tiresome, horny teenagers, a selection of arrogant trigger-happy businessmen, purposefully unpleasant characters without even the rudiments of courtesy or manners, and the withdrawn and brooding Archer (The Vatican Tapes‘ Dougray Scott).
With the island overseen from a control room which only emphasises the Jurazzic Park parallels, chaos unfolds predictably swiftly (“the fresher the faster,” the guests were warned), and had there been any hint that the testosterone-fuelled, gun crazy guests, eager to get out to the killing fields were to be taken as examples of all that is wrong with humanity, that The Rezort was to be taken as a burning satire on modern consumerism and gun culture in the same way as George A Romero‘s shambling hordes depicted the shuffling mall shoppers of the seventies, this might possibly have been entertaining, yet instead the tone is a vulgar celebration of violence.
As tasteless and morally indefenceable as big game hunting, as the survivors saunter ridiculously slowly to the emergency pickup point the question is asked “If we treat the dead like meat, then who’s to say the living won’t be next,” and while the film tries to muster faux outrage in the final scenes, oh how terrible is the Rezort and those who run it, having already decried the whistleblower as a bad person and left them to die the intent and actions established in the previous hour have already spoken loudly in a hail of bullets and blood.