Monday, January 7, 2008


With a title like ZOMBIE IN THE WOODS, I was expecting an unimaginative shitfest, the kind of amateurish production that expends all of its creativity on its moniker. So it was a pleasant surprise to see that this 2007 short film from director Sam Casserly actually shows some legitimate talent.

Running a scant five minutes, a quarter of which is devoted to credits, this British production is woefully thin story-wise, a usual complaint for films of this type. I normally shrug it off as being part and parcel of amateur filmmaking, but Casserly displays an impressive visual style that makes such a shortcoming rather disappointing; it would've been intriguing to see what he could've done with a genuine plot.

Casserly presents his film in black and white, digitally accentuating the splashes of red that occur throughout. This technique is somewhat overdone, but it nonetheless comes off as striking under the limited means. There's also some multiframe work going on that demonstrates more Casserly's available technology than any dramatic effect, but it's good to see an effort to be visually exciting being made.

Too bad Casserly's acumen doesn't extend to the audio portion of his film. The sparse dialogue spoken at the film's climax is so muddled that it's incomprehensible, and what I didn't have to strain to hear was stilted and unconvincing (thanks to actress Jenny Pearman's feeble performance). Considering that this is billed as a "psychological" zombie thriller, I get the impression I may have missed something important. The climax also contains some pretty weak CGI that helps end the movie--which had easily earned my good graces--on an unintentionally humorous note.

Hopefully Casserly can use this as a stepping stone to other projects. He's got great potential, and I'm curious to see what he'll do in the future (but make sure you've got an honest-to-God script, okay, Sam?)

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