AUGUST 9, 2012
Why is this movie so goddamn grainy? I can't think of much to say about Awaken The Dead, as it's an independent zombie movie where the zombie outbreak is a problem with an origin, so you can pretty much guess how it goes if you've been keeping up with your zombie movies, so let's just put in some screen caps that display this movie's obsession with looking like sand:
I mean, that has to be an intentional thing, right? You don't shoot a movie on video and not notice the mistakes on day one so you can fix them for days 2-10. And I didn't even look for "good" examples, I just clicked around and hit screenshot at random - the entire movie looks like that. The other movies on the set look fine, so what gives?
My guess is that the director (and writer, and... it'd probably take less times to list the things he DIDN'T do; I was shocked someone else played the lead role) was aiming for a particular look and didn't process it correctly. Or maybe he simply didn't output the film properly, as post-production skills seem to be lacking here. The audio mix is particularly grueling, with the (mostly grating) songs/score cutting in and out somewhat less than gracefully, overlapping room tone during transitions... pretty much every issue I discussed in this article is represented here. Again, these things are not time consuming to do, nor are they difficult or require extra plugins or whatever in your editing software, so when I see them not done in a movie, my only thought is that the film is the result of incompetence or laziness. Either way it's not exactly a good sign.
And it's a shame, because there's some semblance of a decent (if forgettable) movie here. It's not particularly original, but the idea of turning people into zombies in order to fight war (rather than waste soldiers) trumps the "toxic waste spill" type explanations, if you HAVE to have one (Romero never did, he seemed to do OK). And I like the evil government weapon against them - beacons that emit some chemical that causes the infected blood to boil. None of the FX in the film are worth a damn, but if done right that'd be pretty awesome.
The two main characters were also above average in the "interesting" department - he was a priest who used to work with the heroine's father, who is behind the whole thing. She's spunky but kind of dim (there's one scene where the priest has to ask her to stop just saying "What?" over and over), and their chemistry is enjoyable, especially compared to the others. Whenever anyone else shows up they are either insufferable assholes (the guy who threatens to kill them right after they save him from certain death comes to mind) or annoying (the Jehovah's witness was particularly trying), so I wish they had taken a page from Remains (the comic) and just had the two leads as the only humans.
Luckily, this is the last on this particular 4 pack of zombie films, and the other 3 weren't that bad (I Am Omega, Grave Mistake, and Last Of The Living, if you were wondering), so if this not-without-merit effort is the weakest of the lot, I assure you that things could have been a lot worse. Someone at Monkey Shines will walk home with it for knowing the name of a Romero zombie movie, so if that person is you, I hope you get as much "eh, fine" entertainment out of it as I did!
What say you?