Extinction: The GMO Chronicles (2011)
“At the dusk of time… only the
strong dead survive”
Director: Niki Drowdoski
Cast: Daniel Bruder, Luise Bahr, Jerry Coyle
Synopsis: The remaining survivors of pan-global epidemic face a race against time to find a cure before they succumb to its zombie-inducing effects.
Once again, the world as we know it has come to an end. An unforeseen by-product of biotechnological experimentation has created a disease that infects almost the entire human population, turning them into ravenous, zombie-like creatures. Tom (Daniel Buder) has immunity, and hides away in an abandoned US military base, protected from any passing zombies by a double row of fencing topped with barbed wire. He spends his days trying random numbers on a satellite phone without luck. Then, on a journey into the nearest town, he takes refuge in what he believes is an abandoned house, but discovers three more survivors of the plague, a young couple and the woman’s American father, whom Tom accidentally shoots in the shoulder.
Tom takes them back to his base, and before you know it other healthy survivors are popping up all over the place. Some are ok, others are a little spiky, although there’s never really any sustained degree of tension within the group. Roy, one of the men in the house, is a pain in the backside and is intensely jealous of anyone getting close to his sweet patootie Lisa (Luise Bahr), which is understandable given that she’s a bit of a hottie. Anyway, his antagonistic attitude and status as obstacle to the leading man’s romantic sub-plot ensure that Roy doesn’t last too long into the running time. The only other vaguely antagonistic figure is Max (Tobias Kay), who claims to be a former soldier and declares himself the new leader of the group upon his arrival.
It seems like everybody’s making a zombie movie these days, and almost everybody is making a dull, derivative or just plain bad version of Romero’s original vision. The zombies might move a little faster in modern movies, but overall that’s about as far as things have progressed in, what, forty-plus years? While Extinction, which is a German film shot in English, has plenty of flaws, it does at least try to add a little something to the genre by having its zombies (they aren’t strictly zombies because they’re infected with a virus and not dead, but to all intents and purposes they’re zombies in everything but name) slowly evolving as the film goes on. These guys eventually learn how to scale the perimeter fences of the base and to climb buildings.
Extinction tries to provide a sober examination of day-to-day life in a world overrun with mutants, but the quality of its writing doesn’t quite match up to its ambition. The story drags during the second act, and seems to be going nowhere, before picking up in the final third.
Most of the actors are German, acting in their second language, and their performances suffer as a result, although they aren’t as bad as they could have been given the obvious budgetary limitations, and technically speaking, the film is competent. Given the financial constraints, director Niki Drozdowski and his crew display a promising level of talent, although a little less restraint in the editing department wouldn’t have gone amiss — Extinction really wouldn’t miss twenty minutes or so being pruned from its nearly two-hour running time.
The film is shot largely in de-saturated colours, which might add to the mood initially but gets awfully dull after a while, and it’s seemingly ever-increasing band of survivors include minor characters who add nothing — daft guy in the polar bear suit, for example — and contribute to a noticeable lack of any meaningful interplay between the group at times. But Extinction does at least try to distinguish itself in a genre that seems determined to just keep delivering more of the same, and despite the ill-conceived introduction of an apparently healthy baby in the last twenty minutes — presumably on the off-chance that they might get the opportunity to make a sequel — it proves to be one of the better recent additions to the genre.