THE WALKING DEAD has done for the zombie phenomenon what Will Smith did for rap music â€“ that is, elevated it to a level of pop culture that even your grandma can get into. This has caused a barrage of zombie films, books, and games and even zombie-themed 5K runs to â€¦ wellâ€¦ attack us. The level of such properties hit both ends of the spectrum from the innovative to the just plain awful. Somewhere just to the good side of the middle is where I would put the new pseudo-zombie film STATE OF EMERGENCY.
The plot centers around Jim (Jay Hayden), whom we meet in crisis mode at the filmâ€™s opening as he is trying to find a safe haven with his injured wife in the wake of a chemical plant explosion. Later, teaming up with group of three other survivors, Jay and the others try to hold off the town-folk-turned-walking-dead from the confines of a local factory until help can arrive. Spotty news coverage being their only means of knowing what is going on, they need to kick into full survival mode with no sense of their true chances of rescue.
Given the overwhelming cost associated with making a movie in todayâ€™s day, I will rarely ding a film for production value. Director Turner Clay relies heavily on silence, vast open spaces and sparse locations (such as massive empty factories) to paint a backdrop around his characters to emphasize their utter insignificance in the larger picture of the surrounding apocalypse.
The â€œzombiesâ€ are fast, strong, cunning and in one particular case â€“ persuasive. The makeup is rather understated, focusing more on the actors driving the terror.
What I like most about STATE OF EMERGENCY is that it never pretends to be something it is not. All too often films make heavy handed and usually failed attempts at trying to make some larger statement about race, economic or religious issues facing society when they involve a group of strangers trying to fend off a threat. Not this one. While one could argue a bit of a Native American undertone, the film is driven by instincts of fear, helplessness and survival.
George Romero does not need to look over his shoulder at this new flick on the block, but he might give it a nod as a pretty good movie.
by Blood E.Bastard