There are two subgenres of horror film that have been overdone by a mile in the last decade: Zombie films and Found Footage films. Both have seen their equal share of screen time over the years, though both seem to be overstaying their welcome. Despite their popularity, it is rare when a film comes around that not only combines both genres, but does so in a way that is new and interesting. This is exactly the stance that Reel Zombies attempts to take on the Zombie/Found Footage genre. The only real issue with the film is that, although the story is new and unique, the film itself never holds up to the expectations that I had for it throughout the 89 minute run time — which felt as if it was dragging on longer than all 180 minutes of The Wolf of Wall Street.
Reel Zombies takes place in a post-apocalyptic, zombie ridden world where a group of indie horror film makers, playing themselves, attempt to finish their zombie film trilogy while using real zombies. The first two films by the group, “Zombie Night I” and “Zombie Night II” respectively, were trashy, campy, terribly made films; while their goal with “Zombie Night III” is to finally add a sense of realism to the trilogy. Mike Masters and David J. Francis, as themselves, bum rush a script for the third film and begin the production stages as quick as possible, forgetting all forms of continuity and passion; while Andrew Fruman, their friend and cohort, films a documentary of the entire production.
Where Reel Zombies lacks in acting and focus, it sometimes makes up for in humor. The film is funny; the only problem is that it’s only funny sometimes. The jokes about continuity errors in “Zombie Night III” and the lack of care and passion from the crew, does make for a very funny, lackadaisical zombie comedy, but it can only carry the film so far. There are scenes in Reel Zombies that had me laughing out loud, but they were unfortunately few and far between.
While it is easy to see that the cast and crew of the film were having fun and trying to make something enjoyable, they forgot some very important aspects of film making that many seem to overlook with Found Footage movies: acting. I’m not saying that they were terrible, they were believable enough for a film in this genre, but there was one main issue I had with the reality of the movie within the movie. The point of Reel Zombies is that in this post-apocalyptic world, zombies are more of a passing issue than an immediate, pressing one. Which is fine, the cast does a good job of showing the audience that they have just come to terms with living in a zombie infested world. But where the film really falls short is any time a zombie actually attacks and kills someone on set, I felt no real world emotion from anyone. It was more of a “well let’s move on” in a less funny and more “I’m not good at sharing emotion on screen” sort of way.
Reel Zombies makes for some good laughs and pokes fun at two genres of film very well. It is funny, at parts, and it is entertaining at parts, but that’s the biggest issue. Everything in the film is done in moderation and there was never enough to keep me caring about the movie. While the idea was there and the creativity was awakening, the initiation was where the film fell off. Shut your mind down and watch a film that will have you giggling at times, but prepare to keep one eye on the clock as you wait for the final credits to roll.