Today, I watched the 2003 film Zombie Night. It wasn’t very good.
Like Dead and Deader , watching this film made me feel like it was part of a reality show where each week the contestants have to make a different kind of movie, and this week was “zombie week.” Zombie Night features the most predictable and hackneyed zombie-plot possible. All the chestnuts are here. The plot is hardly worth recounting. (“Sigh. And yet…”) A man is driving with his wife and daughter, when a zombie apocalypse breaks out. The family holds up in an abandoned building with a bunch of other humans and they attempt to fight off the zombies while maintaining law-and-order amongst themselves.
The film is poorly scripted and poorly acted. It contributes nothing new to the genre, and appears to have been made hastily. The actors frequently misspeak or make obvious mistakes, and yet these shots have inexplicably been left in the film.
Other strange things about Zombie Night:
- It’s obviously shot in Canada and acted by Canadian actors, yet many of them try to affect American accents. It’s not a seamless transition. I wish they would’ve just let it be a “Canadian Zombie Film.” The actors could have let all their “aboots” and “sorries” ring out. As it stands, they appear to be “secret Canadians” who do a poor job of hiding it.
- There are characters other than the protagonist’s nuclear family, but they don’t serve to further the plot. They’re just a collection of stereotypes from other zombie films.
- The characters fight over limited resources and what they should do next, but it all seems very unnecessary. I came away with the sense that the director felt he “had” to include arguments because they’re present in so many canonical zombie movies, but he hadn’t really considered why his characters needed to fight.
This film was also fraught with numerous unprofessional errors and mistakes. You can see the shadow of a boom in a shot near the start of the film. They’re supposed to be in an apocalyptic zombie wasteland, but the backgrounds show highways with a normal flow of cars. During the opening montage of zombie outbreak news-footage, the newsreaders are homely and less-professional looking than any newsreaders I’ve ever seen (and I’ve lived in Iowa… honest-to-God-Iowa). One newsreader appears to be delivering a broadcast in Chinese, but the titles at the bottom of the screen are inexplicably in English.
Final Thought: Look, zombie movies in the Romero-tradition are a little like blues songs. It’s not the most complicated idea, and the basics are really, well, basic. It’s what you do on top of this basic outline that really matters. A simple, twelve-bar blues can be remedial and boring when played by an uninspired neophyte, but someone like Buddy Guy can come along and play the exact same song shredding like a monster and make it transcendent and incredible.
Let’s just say that Zombie Night has no solos or shredding at all. (No clever lyrics either. And for some reason, all the musicians in the band are pretending not to be Canadian.)