This is, I think, the worst zombie movie I have ever seen. And I’ve watched some tripe over the years. This really is a turgid, horrible mess of a film, and a worthy entry in my fabled 0.5 out of 5 club. Zombies are normally a sure-fire bet for a low budget production. If the story’s poor you can at least enjoy some undead carnage. That Empire State of the Dead fails to engage on any front is not just remarkable, but strangely impressive.
Now, I may have been able to get along with it if it wasn’t for the fact it runs for nearly two hours. TWO. HOURS. I’d allow that for a George Romero movie, or even Zack Snyder’s Dawn remake, because stuff actually happens in those films. Letterboxd says this film is only 90 minutes long. I wish. It would have saved me half an hour of my life. I will caveat that by saying I spent the second half of the film replacing the back of my old Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, which had taken an unfortunate tumble a year previously. That engaged me far more than the movie, both before, during and after the repair.
This is yet another example of a strong blurb selling a terrible movie. That blurb said that a crack military team are sent into a city overrun by the dead in a bid to restore order. Well yes, that does happen. But it happens very, very slowly and without any aim or purpose. There’s stuff going on in the woods, like a subpar episode of Stargate SG-1. There’s people arguing with each other, and a few zombies here and there.
There is absolutely nothing that suggests we’re getting a “Zombies in New York” style movie. It’s kept to limited and out of the way locations and you never get a feel for the big city. It could pass for New York State perhaps, and down one of the quieter roads that nobody ventures down. The locations are ripe for horror movie usage, but do not suit this particular story.
And down that road are performances that are stilted and wooden, to the point of dragging things down further into the mire. Not a single performance stands out to me, resulting in a film that is for all intents and purposes a long collage of grey, with occasional splashes of claret to wake you up. It’s very much like a group of friends decided to make a film, but without a script, a plot or a movie crew.
Can I say anything positive about this experience? Yes. The title is pretty good, and the blurb that sold me on watching it did its job. Oh, and the director is the gloriously named Ron Bonk. If he’s not Dutch then it’s an incredible name that is far better than the movie he has churned out. Aside from that, my advice is to steer clear of this mess. Don’t make the same mistake that I did.