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Sorry folks, I just don't see the enthusiasm.
on August 20, 2016
I had some hopes for this due to some of the glowing reviews here, but I'm afraid I just can't rate it as actually good. It's not totally terrible though, and in the bottomless pit that is the world of zombie movies that's saying pretty much. For one thing, there's a bit of money being spent here. Reportedly $750,000 was spent making this, which is not quite what is spent making one episode of The Walking Dead, but at least it's something. For one thing we're out of the woods. Most low to no-budget zombie films are filmed in rural areas for budgetary reasons. Trees lok like trees, zombies or not. but here we get a zombie infestation in a city, and Reno at that. Well, maybe actually Norwich, Connecticut, but at least the establishing shots were shot in Reno.
It starts well and follows the usual infection scenario but in this case it's a reaction to some kind of nuclear accident. After that it's your basic survivors holed up with zombies outside. This time it's in a Hotel/Casino. I thought that was going to make for some interesting scenarios, but they didn't use the casino-angle much and besides, it wasn't a fancy casino, more like a glorified card room in a lower end small hotel. The zombies/infected are unique to this film. That's not necessarily an improvement, but it is different. These Z's are sometimes fast and sometimes slow and lumbering. Some are weak but others are very strong. The sleep (!!) and you can even sneak out and tiptoe among them. And after a time, they even start attacking and eating each other (!!!). That's a violation of one of the most cardinal rules of zombies or infected, but that's what they do, in Reno at least. But they still crave live meat the most and will stop munching on each other if a fresh soul wanders by.
The film could have ben good given all this but it fails mostly in its script and some indifferent acting. The plot starts meandering a little way in and loses all sense of pacing. Worse than that it loses all sense of tension and dread. The characters just hang out, quarrel with each other and sit around the lounge drinking cocktails. this is not the mall of Dawn of the Dead which was temporarily secured so well that it allowed some down time. This is a cheap hotel with only glass doors and some piled up furniture between life and death. But the way the characters act you'd think the film was about a power outage and everybody is bored. The developments that do occur don't make much sense. You expect characters in these films to make some dumb decisions, but here characters completely change their personalities without apparent motivation.
The acting is not very helpful. Grant Bowler tries his best as the lead and is fairly convincing. for most of the others it's just the script. Tawny Cypress is good as Cindy, the daughter of "General Reddick" but only appears briefly and isn't given much to do. This is also true for Miko Hughes (trivia:the original baby in The Omen),the gay character Jensen and most of the others. Evalena Marie has some fans online but it's not for her acting, which is wooden. Overall you just don't care about these undeveloped and mostly unlikable people.
The movie was made for the chiller cable channel and has typical TV editing. There are some fun moments and a little suspense but it doesn't add up to much. it's pretty much a by-the-numbers zombie flick with a moderate budget that at least makes it stand out from the truly low budget fare. it's worth a watch on a slow night.
By the way, Steve Niles is a writer of the graphic novel that the film was based on, and not a character in the film. The title is actually "Remains". His name was added to be sure his fans watched it. I guess he has some reputation among the cognoscenti.