A young runner, on a Zombie film set, has the first day from hell when real Zombies overrun the set.
When Peter Jackson unleashed his low budget splatter fest Bad Taste on the world in 1987, then Braindead in 1992, it firmly planted New Zealand on the horror map. Unfortunately this left any New Zealand filmmakers who wished to dip their toes in the horror genre with very big shoes to fill, and comparisons with Jacksons iconic go- re fests are inevitable.
Obviously inspired by Jackson’s comedy/horror classics, writer/director Guy Pigden tries to differentiate his debut feature from NZ’s other horror fare with a self aware narrative full of self aware gags, meta jokes and winks to the audience with its satirical look at all our favourite horror cliches(think a horror version of Tropic Thunder).
The movie is actually set during the filming of a fictional zombie flick called “Tonight They Come”. It provides a clever and satirical look at the issues that low budget film making can throw up, such as the difficulty getting funding, stressed out directors and ruthless producers that only care about the costs of things above all else(includ
ing the wellbeing of the cast and crew).
Then, as I'm sure most of you can guess, things take a turn for the worse for the production when a “real life” zombie horde invades the set, bringing with them subtle(and not so subtle) nods to the zombie classics of yesteryear. George A. Romero and his films are payed particular homage to.
For such a low budget film, the acting is very impressive, with a good amount of time allocated to develop the characters and relationships between them.
Harley Neville(Ghost TV) plays Wesley, a spineless(yet lovable) geek. His naivety makes him an interesting(yet unlikely) hero for the film. He starts out as a lowly runner for the fictional film, but is desperate to become a script writer in his own right. His relentless attempts to promote his own script are constantly shot down in flames by his fellow crew
members. Whilst on set, he meets Susan(Jocelyn Christian), the girl of his dreams.
The rest of the cast seem to be there as another way to add satire to the movie. You have the maniacal director(Andrew Laing-Deathgasm), a narcissistic action hero(Mike Edward-Ash vs Evil Dead) and a prima donna starlet(Reanin Johannink) amongst others. They are all so well developed and lampooned brilliantly that they entertain throughout. For a relatively unknown set of actors to perform so well, in such a large production is a credit to them and their director.
Speaking of the director, to say its his first film, and considering the size of the production, Pigden has done a very good job. His work is so professionally done in places that you would never guess it was his debut. He mixes the horror and comedy well, and when you add the romance element into the mix, they are very well balanced. More importantly in my opinion, they don't detract from each other. For the gore, it seems that practical effects were mainly used, which is refreshing in this age of cheap CGI.
Its not all good news though. I felt the pacing was off from time to time. The first half of the film is pretty gore free(bar the opening scene). Also, some of the scenes feature too much slapstick comedy which waters down the genuinely funny scenes. The dialogue can be a bit ropey at times, and it seems that the writer has reverted to cheap gags which are not funny too often.
The ending also lacking something, and seems like they didn't know how to end the movie. The lack of explanation left me feeling a bit flat, and if I'm honest, frustrated.
To sum it all up, this is a fun film that will have you genuinely laughing out loud in places, unfortunately they are just too and far between. The horror elements are ok, but certainly not the best zombie scenes
out there. With New Zealand’s horror/comedy output being at a high recently with the brilliant What We Do In The Shadows, Housebound and Deathgasm, ISAZH just doesn't hit the heights its predecessors do. But if you have a few hours to spare, its still a fun watch.