Survivors

It's hard to believe we've had almost a half-century of the zombie-style post-apocalyptic genre -- and that's only going back to 1968 and Night of the Living Dead, never mind the very early zombie flicks of the 1930's. But though there are relatively high-budget zombie films like the 28 duology which are already becoming classics, the low-budget zombie movies don't have to suffer when compared to their wealthier cousins, and Survivors proves it.

First, there's Duke (Simon Burbage). He's semi-reluctantly answered the call of ex-girlfriend Kate (Joanne Gale), who is an independent journalist in need of Duke and his camera for a big expose she's working on. It seems the Medea Corporation is running drug trials on human subjects -- which is nothing new, people can make some money doing that if they don't mind risking a wide array of unknown side effects. In this case, however, the test subjects are also disappearing, and Kate wants to know what's going on.

Naturally few people at the company want to talk to her, still less on camera, but she finally finds someone willing to hand over an envelope full of documents to her, telling her to "read everything". This she does, with so much focus that she forgets little things like food, but before she can get too far everything's already started to fall apart. Medea, by the way, is a reference to a character from Greek mythology, the wife of the hero Jason who went in search of the Golden Fleece. There are several different versions of Medea's story, though the most famous is from the play by Euripides where her husband casts her aside to marry a princess and she kills their children to get revenge on him. Great way to inspire public confidence there.

In the chaos, Kate and Duke are separated and she sets out to look for him while wrestling with the guilt of having brought him straight into ground zero. Along the way she meets Paul (David Anderson) and Alan (Adrian Annis), who seem to want to help -- but in a world like this, even those who are on your side can be dangerous. What counts as "help" has become entirely a matter of opinion, and few people are on any side except their own.

It reminded me somewhat of another indy production I reviewed, Dead Weight. That was mainly because in both movies, the zombies (or in the case of Survivors, more like diseased humans) aren't really the worst threat. The infected here certainly want to rip people's faces off, but they rarely get the chance, at least anywhere near the camera. The biggest death toll we actually experience is from the uninfected versus the uninfected. Some are following orders, some are desperate, and some are just crazy, but for sheer danger to the characters the poor mindless zombies can't compete with the humans who are still capable of thinking and using guns.

I'll give it four and a quarter out of five. The 'found footage' angle is handled pretty well, which is more than I can say for some movies, and as often happens with the more realistic, low-key films, the fact that the actors aren't well-known helps makes things that tiny bit more real and frightening. The ending relies too much on luck and coincidence, but I have to admit I liked it despite that. Just remember to stay away from those drug trials, no matter how much money they're offering.

Image: 
A man and his victim. No, that isn't a zombie menacing the helpless young woman.

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Good review :) I'll check it

Good review :) I'll check it out.

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