If it weren’t for haters all over the Internet, I don’t think I would find any movies I actually like. Maybe I have terrible taste—if the general population despises a movie, I’m generally a fan of it, if they love it, I don’t often care much for it. Maybe it’s because the positive or negative hype rarely lives up to its own hype. Or perhaps it’s because I never go into any “Living Dead” movie thinking it will be on par with Romero’s original.
So based on how intensely despised the low-budget British indie film Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection is, I was expecting absolute garbage camcorder shit with cardboard actors, terrible dialogue, non-existent plot, and no visual special effects. I assumed it would be even worse than the widely loathed Night of the Living Dead 3D (which I actually kind of like as far as generic piece of crap zombie films go). Anticipating Resurrection being worthless, I was baffled when it was over and I was left completely satiated and pretty disturbed.
Along with Mimesis, which I blogged about here, Night of the Living Dead Resurrection lands in my top 2 favorite Romero “re-imaginings.” It’s so bleak and tragic, essentially considering the fate of the original family that lived in the farmhouse before Ben and the others arrived. It’s really a brand new story, not a remake.
The opening with a man entering a seemingly empty convenience store shows director James Plumb’s ability to capture the look and feel of zombie classics, particularly films from the 1970s. Throughout the movie, the camera angles, tight shots, dreary lighting, washed out look, and natural darkness are top-notch tension builders. I was strongly reminded of my favorite Ti West film, The Roost. And the immediate zombie injection in the opening is eerie and gruesome. There’s also a “subplot” concerning punks who I imagine are supposed to be like those lawless teen brats from Eden Lake.
The homage to Night of the Living Dead comes with the brief appearance of our man Ben, played by a guy with the same confident/terrified/gentle personality and mannerisms. His segment is not only wickedly suspenseful, but captures his feelings of isolation and desperation as he tries to get away from the horrors. Is this what he went through before meeting Barbra in the farmhouse? When he drives down scary-as-hell back roads at night, you feel like you’re in the car with him, with only headlights and taillights illuminating the near vicinity. What an incredible fricking scene. And the reintroduction of slow-moving zombies meandering through the pitch black woods is such a comforting return to form for undead films.
But Resurrection isn’t about Ben or the zombies. We are moved to a house in the middle of the woods where four generations of family are in hiding – grandfather, husband, wife, daughter, pregnant daughter, and her husband. It’s not long before we learn one of them has been bitten. You feel the claustrophobia, vulnerability, and hopelessness in the tight quarters as the family tries to cope with this. Their clashing reactions are so genuine, painting a picture of their horrifying circumstances and the devastating emotional toll on them. We witness a family unravel under the worst of situations.
In fact, the movie remains inside the house. The family doesn’t battle the zombies roaming around outside—just those inside. Things keep getting worse and highly disturbing, so eventually, the dad has no choice but to go get help to save his family. And this is when those lawless kids come back into the picture and do some pretty heinous shit. All hell at last breaks loose.
When all is said and done, a band of outlaws comes around. What usually happens in these zombie films with these outlaws? They have self-satisfying, horrible plans for our main characters, right? The very last line of Resurrection is such a directly labeled acknowledgement of what they have in store for survivors, which seems to tick viewers off, as if it is meant to be the whole point of the film. Would the anger be the same if these baddies had been introduced earlier and a spade had been called a spade then, like in other zombie films? I see this closing statement as the final demonstration of how dismal things are; there is absolutely no hope for humanity.
I’d suggest not going into this expecting a Romero film, especially since he hasn’t made a truly masterful zombie film himself in years. Think more in terms of the hopeless tone of the ridiculously overhyped 28 Days Later and you might be able to appreciate Resurrection….