Stephen McHattie (Pontypool, Shoot 'em Up) just collected a paycheck for grunting his way through a role that would have normally required speaking lines, were anyone but him to play it.....and that is why he is Stephen McHattie. There are some personalities who can do no cinematic wrong, in my eyes, Stephen is one of those select and under appreciated few, it's just too bad he was criminally under utilized in this picture.
This movie didn't quite turn out to be what I had pictured upon first learning of it. While all the elements that sparked my interest in the first place (civil war era zombie plague, to be specific) were present, I wasn't expecting the "docu-drama"-esque package they ended up being delivered in. It was a bit of a double edged sword for me. On the one hand, the freshness of the docu-drama aesthetic was very welcome, and well executed....but on the other hand, like most docu-dramas, it was a bit hard to feel close to any of the characters due in part to the constant narrative distractions. Most of the protagonists roles are suitably acted, and the non zombie antagonists characters (namely Bill Mosely: Devils Rejects, Rogue River) are highly entertaining, but mostly for their seemingly illicit drug influenced performances rather than anything they did right in any traditional acting sense. Like I earlier mentioned, the setting is one of the best parts of the film. The gloomy aura of the post Civil War South in winter provides a fantastic backdrop for a zombie outbreak. The story within the setting, however unorthidox it was, still boiled down to the same one used in modern zombie fiction. Man loses family, zombies, man gives up on life, zombies, man finds reason to live, zombies, man finds secondary adversity, zombies, survival, zombies....etc.
The zombie make-up and gore effects are on par with everything else in this flick, great at times, and a leaving a bit to be desired at others. I only say that because, despite the generally great look of the ghouls, they decided to put a very obviously chalky and non disease/post-mortem occuring substance on a lot of their faces and I found it to be a bit off putting. The gore however, was fine, nothing too special but solidly executed by a clearly professional crew.
I find this film a bit confusing to put a rating number on, while I find it to be highly recommendable due to it's efforts and successes at originality, I also have a hard time awarding it much more than an average rating because of the general lack of passion it inspired in me to feel as I watched it. Aren't first world problems a bitch?!
6.5/10 detached retinas