Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Casual movie-goers, be it those who don't watch many movies or whose tastes run closer to the local multiplex or Blockbuster outlet, will often gripe about film critics. "They don't like anything," they'll say, as if finding fault with GOOD LUCK CHUCK or TRANSFORMERS is some kind of profound character flaw. They're snobs, they say, interested only in subtitled arthouse flicks and not "real" movies.

Know why critics are so cranky and hard to please? Because they watch movies a lot, and by doing so encounter cliches and mediocrity more times than they'd probably like. And when you're watching films not for leisure but as part of your job (or a project such as this one), it becomes difficult to tolerate stories and plot elements that are weak and trite. Familiarity most certainly breeds contempt when it comes to watching movies.

Take for example the 2007 shot-on-video production AWAKEN THE DEAD. Were I to throw this on during a slow night to pass the time I might've been able to wring a little enjoyment from it, but having suffered through this very same movie time and again over the last eleven months I found myself rather antagonistic.

Amidst the same ol' virus-generated zombie wasteland a prostitute and a preacher-turned-assassin team up to survive. And within this well-trod territory writer/director Jeffrey McMichael Brookshire takes us on a journey we've been on before, revisiting every familiar stop like a veteran tour guide. It's the kind of film that inspires boredom from the very beginning, when it becomes apparent we're getting nothing new. I'm as tired of man-of-the-cloth anti-heroes as I am of those two-fisted action sequences that work in Honk Kong films but look ridiculous in DIY flicks like these. Nor is the single-set story any help, creating an atmosphere that's claustrophobic in all the wrong ways.

The story's not the only moldy-oldie on display, either. Think of any technical flaw found in micro-budget cinema and it's bound to be in this movie. We've got terrible acting, pedestrian direction, and grainy, cheap-looking videography, not to mention the ever-reliable shitty audio. (Note to no-budget filmmakers: if you're going to tell your story mostly through dialogue--and God knows most of you will--make sure you film said dialogue so that it's audible.) All this, and Brookshire even resolves his tale with a simplistic, pat ending loaded with cheesy symbolism.

Pass on this one, even if you're not weary of cheap zombie flicks.

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