Zoombies (2016)

Uncaged, Undead

Writer: Scotty Mullen
Director: Glenn Miller

Zoombies is unashamedly ‘Jurassic Park + Zombies’, in fact one of the characters actually says “It’s a zoo, not Jurassic Park”. The idea’s actually pretty good, unfortunately the film definitely isn’t.

The story revolves around the Eden Wildlife Zoo, essentially a large open-plan wildlife reserve. Some of the monkeys are coming down with an unknown disease which, eventually, causes them to die then reanimate as fast, vicious zombies. Given the open nature of the park and the climbing ability of monkeys, it’s then only a matter of time before the disease spreads to the other creatures.

We’re introduced to the main characters on a bus full of interns. These range from the ‘intentionally irritating’ to the ‘meant to be zany and funny but is even more irritating’. There’s also, of course, the Cute Kid.

And that’s pretty much it, the rest of the film is a series of fairly random incidents. It all leads up to a finale that could have been good if they’d had the budget for a horde of zombie birds – but they didn’t.

Everything about Zombies feels like a TV movie. The script is scattershot with action scenes dropped in every few minutes as if to keep us watching after an ad break. There’s no build up of threat or overall narrative drive until the very end. We have plenty of action but no actual story and certainly no atmosphere or suspense. Some of the dialogue is truly abysmal and attempts at wise-cracking fall very flat.

Direction is equally flat. Miller is obviously happiest during the action scenes, however these fail to capture any of the surreal creepiness or ‘wrongness’ of zombies. There’s no atmosphere, in fact nothing to make this feel like anything other than a generic animal attack movie. Attempts to make us feel sentimental about the crazed zombie animals are badly misjudged.

Chekhov’s gun is also very much in evidence: See a zipwire, predict a scene. Hear about gas canisters, predict another scene.

I wasn’t expecting a classic movie from The Asylum, but I was hoping it might be the sort of film worth watching with a few mates and some beers. Unfortunately even as a mindless guilty pleasure Zoombies has no redeeming features.