September 10th, 2010

Quarantine, Planet Terror, Dead Snow

So since I'll be appearing next month as a putative zombie expert, I figured I should actually sit down and watch some of the zombie movies that have come out in the last few years:

Quarantine movie

Quarantine: This one is fantastic. It's the American remake of a Spanish film called REC (which I haven't seen). It's basically Cloverfield in a zombie-infested apartment building. As with Cloverfield, you sort of have to suspend disbelief a bit when the camera always happens to be present and pointed in the right direction whenever anything important to the plot goes down -- this sometimes makes the movie feel more like an amusement park ride than cinema verite. It's an intense movie though, and is notable for its unusually long and well-done setup in which we really get to know and identify with the principal characters. This one's a must-see for zombie fans.

Planet Terror movie

Planet Terror: The title led me to expect something more science fictional, but this is a pretty standard self-spoofing horror movie, a la Feast. It's maniacally tasteless, melodramatic, and silly. It has a scattering of Quentin Tarantino-esque flourishes that raise it marginally above the norm, and Rose McGowan's machinegun leg is kind of cool. It's okay for what it is, I guess, but you're not missing anything if you skip it.

Dead Snow movie

Dead Snow: This is a Norweigan zombie movie (with subtitles) about med students on a ski vacation who inadvertently awaken a horde of Nazi zombies left over from World War II. The Norweigan setting and characters were kind of interesting, and the most effective part of the movie is the story about the German occupation. When the zombies actually attack, the movie gets pretty stupid. It tries for a Shaun of the Dead-style humor/horror combo, but I thought the humor fell pretty flat and merely sucked away whatever tension the movie might have succeeded in creating. Silly, over-the-top gross-out stuff doesn't do much for me, and that's really all this movie has to offer. The final act increasingly comes to feel like some kids out in the woods fooling around with a camera, and the Nazi zombies don't act any different from non-Nazi zombies, which renders the whole conceit sort of beside the point. I think this movie might have been interesting if it had dealt -- even in passing -- with some of the themes raised by the dark history of German occupation, but really its only ambition is to find new ways to use intestines for slapstick comedy.