Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The slow rot of the zombie movie

These people are not having a good time

I used to love zombie films above all other forms of cinema. Forget your kitchen sink neo-realism or modern blockbuster entertainment, Dawn of the Dead is still one of the best films of all time. I watched every cheap and gross Italian zombie film my local video stores had in the 1980s and it was very, very bad for me.

So I was fully on-board when there was a post-millenial surge in zombie fiction. I got all the in-jokes in Shaun of the Dead, and thought 28 Days Later was a smart extrapolation of the genre, and the early use of digital camera set a whole new aesthetic.

But the rot started to set in around the time of the Dawn of the Dead remake, not just because the undead were running around all over the show (I didn't have that problem with the same thing in 28 Days Later, because they weren't dead in that one, but running zombies has always struck me as a weird arrogance of the now), but because everything was so obvious, and loud, and over-paced.

The state of zombie films has only gotten worse since then, and there are literally too many cheap pieces of crap to keep track of - including some that take further shits on the names of Romero's original great trilogy. Romero himself came back to the shuffling dead to diminishing returns, with dull characters shooting dull found footage and ghouls on horseback. And while The Walking Dead was okay for a while - any dull episode was usually redeemed by some brilliant piece of action - it disappeared up its own decomposing arse a long time ago.

I haven't seen a new zombie film in years now, and it's been a long time since anything has truly scared me like those earlier films did. They're all flash and bluster and the most obvious of metaphors, with jump scares instead of the slow and terrifying plod of the ravenous dead.

And, frankly, I just don't want to be associated with the kind of hardcore fan who has laid claim to the zombie film. It's grosser than a Fulci eye-gouging the way a certain kind of zombie movie fan craves the apocalypse, aching for that freedom of a destroyed society, ignoring the sheer fucking horror of it all.

They always think they'll be Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, not one of the actual shuffling dead, smug in their arrogance that they would be the survivors if the apocalypse did come, because they'd watched a few movies. The ranks of zombie-movie fans riddled with QAnon fucktards who think they can sit back and 'enjoy the show', because nothing could ever actually happens to them, or religious zealots who think the book of Revelations is a goddamn guidebook, not a warning.

Maybe zombie films are just something you grow out of, and those who don't are destined to be stuck in that rotting herd, hungry for flesh, but never going anywhere. 

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