Monday, May 12, 2008


With an awkward title like WAKING UP TO HELL (shouldn't that be WAKING UP IN HELL--unless they're referring to anyone who nods off during this thing, a very likely possibility), it should be no surprise that the film itself is equally stilted and clumsy. Whatever you want to call it, this 2007 short film is yet another painfully amateurish dropping from an untalented filmmaker (four of them, actually: directors Matthew Bankhead, Jason Geigerman, Evans Wilson, and Kody Wynne). And though this dud marks the first entry in the second half of this project, it still doesn't make the next six months look any brighter.

The film claims to follow three "intertwining" stories as a zombie plague overtakes a sleepy Georgia town. Well, WAKING doesn't intertwine its stories as much as jump from one to the other, with little more than a common scenario bridging them together; there's not much here that's new, either, most of the would-be stories are either normal folk running from zombies, or laughable official-types try to deal with the outbreak. The plot unfolds in such an unimaginative and pedestrian manner you'd think the terms "fresh" and "creative" were foreign concepts to these guys, and at 27 minutes it drags far too long thanks to its shallow script.

The acting and dialogue are abominable, as is usually the case, though even by the threadbare standards of backyard filmmaking--I almost called it cinema, what the fuck was I thinking?--it's still pretty heinous. (I didn't bother to look for her name, but I sincerely hope that whoever plays the girlfriend in the latter part of the film harbors no thespic aspirations--she's in for a world of heartache if she does) Making matters worse is the atrocious sound quality, which reduces most of the dialogue to a muddled garble. Fortunately, the horrendously inappropriate Europop soundtrack comes through loud and clear.

You'd think that with four directors behind the camera, one of them might've figured out something was amiss, but I'm afraid they were all too busy high-fiving each other between takes to notice. There is one moment where the story attempts a little pathos, as one of the characters contemplates the photo of a loved one; by the blood strategically spattered on the picture we're to assume they were a victim of the zombies, but then we notice that everything around the picture is thoroughly neat and clean, and any chance this scene had of working goes out the window.

There's something else I need to get off my chest: what's the deal with having a director's credit at both ends of the movie? I've been seeing this a lot lately, where we'll see the director card before the movie begins and bam, there it is again, Tarantino-style, before the end credits roll. It smacks of arrogance and hubris, and in most cases the director in question isn't worthy of such indulgences. WAKING UP TO HELL does this too, smugly showing off all four names again as if we're supposed to be impressed by their shitty little flick. We're not. Try again.

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