Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption
by Joe Sanders
Available now on DVD from Pacific Entertainment
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For the dozens of people who saw Zombie Apocalypse, you may look at a sequel as an opportunity. “Finally,” you might think, “they’re going to answer all my questions which were left lingering after the credits rolled on Zombie Apocalypse. Unfortunately, you will be disappointed. Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption picks up 12 years after the events of the first film. The survivors we grew to know and tolerate in the first film are presumed dead as the zombies now outnumber mankind 10,000 to 1, and we’re left infinitely curious as to why that ominous secret government agency kidnapped that one guy’s girlfriend, whose name we can’t remember. And why the same agency needed to send out an assassin to take out said girl’s boyfriend instead of leaving that to the hoards of zombies walking the streets. Good news for the other 6.5 billion people who missed the first film, you won’t even notice that it’s a sequel, because technically it’s not.
Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption offers a new story with a new set of characters for our viewing “pleasure.” This time, we see that humanity has broken into two distinct, zombie-hating camps. On one side, we have a group of marauding terrorists who have apparently seen Mad Max too many times and spend the film riding around on their motorcycles killing, raping, and stealing whatever they want. On the other hand, we have our stock zombie apocalypse survivors; good-natured people who are just trying to get by and remain uneaten. So, the film tries to heighten the stakes of your standard zombie movie by adding in this man vs. man conflict, but ultimately the only result of this is that the audience quickly and often wonders where all the zombies are. The story centers around our loveable and appropriately badass anti-hero, Knox (Johnny Gel), who worked for the ex-military marauders until he offended their leader and was left out in the desert to die. Betrayed by his camp, he joins alliances with Moses (Fred Williamson) and his rag-tag group of survivors. The huge problem with this being that his change of conscience is completely forced and unbelievable. It might have been interesting for him to fake his way to being a hero in order to survive, but as is it’s impossible to believe the shift in his character before the film begins.
A lot of love went into this script. It’s easy to see watching this that all four writers took it very seriously and wanted to turn out the best zombie movie they could on a very limited budget. There are a few “gem” lines sprinkled throughout, which one can almost hear the screenwriter’s giving each other high fives as they wrote them. “If I wanted your opinion, I’d rape it out of you” one would pitch, and the others would giggle and hug and make sure he wrote it down promptly and accurately. While moments like this in the script are textbook bad writing, and will doubtlessly limit ZAR’s appeal, those viewers who remain will be enthralled by the film’s B-movie status and actually get a lot of enjoyment out of this.
As you may have guessed, the “Redemption” in the title refers to Knox’s arc of breaking away from his destructive past and doing some good, and in no way stands as an apology for Director Ryan Thompson’s previous film, but what is there to do? The production quality is certainly higher than its predecessor, and the DVD case actually looks like its for a real movie so maybe that will help ZAR reach a larger audience in the end.
Special features on the DVD include a commentary track, deleted scenes, production stills, and more.
Joe Sanders is a playwright and college instructor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has a Master’s degree in playwriting and a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches Thought and Writing.
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