Humans VS Zombies (2011)

Humans VS Zombies (2011)

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It was the only way to deal with door to door salesmen.
It was the only way to deal with door to door salesmen.

Twitter Plot Summary: Fans of live action game Humans VS Zombies get more than they bargained for when a genuine zombie uprising takes place.

Now this is an interesting one: a film that is entirely spun out from a live action game played on college campuses across the United States, where students designated as humans must survive a zombie onslaught. The twist is that a genuine zombie outbreak occurs while a small group of college teens are partaking in their own version of the Humans VS Zombies game, and they have to work out how to survive. In theory they, or at least, the game’s moderator, should have a good chance of making it through to the end seeing as they know all the rules of zombie films.

There are good moments, such as when the camera takes a Google Earth-style overview of the local area, but goes to the effort of adding clouds and effects to make it more realistic. The gore effects too are occasionally solid, although the zombies leave a little to be desired. This may be a deliberate effort to make the undead look like the people playing the game, but it’s a missed opportunity in that they could have really pushed the boat out and made the actual zombies look more plausible.

There is yet more that doesn’t work – director Brian T Jaynes has an eye for a good shot here and there, but lacks the nuance to generate emotional weight where the script intended. The tone jumps unpleasantly between knowing campy humour and overwrought drama, helped none by the overly keen score and the low budget acting skills on offer. Low budget doesn’t necessarily mean bad, however. With a couple of exceptions the performances are generally solid, even if the material they’re provided with is less then stellar.

Statistically, they're probably all going to die.
Statistically, they’re probably all going to die.

What starts out as a potentially clever twist on the established zombie film structure soon devolves into cliche storytelling that has its own fair share of logical inconsistencies. The survivors decide to take shelter in a building that is essentially a showroom, complete with huge glass windows – not very secure and it’s hard to explain their thinking for choosing this particular safe house. The ending also seems to be in too much of a rush to get to the end credits without resolving anything in a satisfactory manner. The final scene is one that had the potential to be powerful but some character’s fates remain uncertain and it just doesn’t go anywhere. Those tonal problems come to the fore again in the second half of the film, this time between overwrought drama and zombie horror tropes – in this case they’re like oil and water, never to mix.

It’s a shame when films get close to the point of almost being worthwhile seeing, yet never quite manage to push beyond their limitations. Such is the case with Humans VS Zombies – there are some good ideas at work but all of its individual elements fail to coalesce and it seems that the production team, much like a zombie attacking a very angry and obese man, have bitten off more than they can chew.

Score: 2/5

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