Apocalypse Z (2013)
“There is no hope.”
Director: Luca Boni, Marco Ristori
Cast: Christian Boeving, Mike Mitchell, Tara Cardinal
Synopsis: A team of soldiers are assembled to help end a zombie outbreak in a Romanian town.
What we have here is a typically opportunistic attempt by filmmakers working on the comparatively impoverished fringes of the movie industry to cash in on the release of a major Hollywood pic. In this case the Hollywood movie is the Brad Pitt multi-million dollar epic World War Z. The notoriously bad German movie-maker Uwe Boll changed the title of this cheap flick from Zombie Massacre to Apocalypse Z, even though there’s no apocalypse and, strictly speaking, the ‘zombies’ are actually victims of some biological/radioactive fallout rather than the dead come back to life. To be fair to Boll, he didn’t direct this effort — the blame there lies with Luca Boni and Marco Ristori — he merely served as one of the producers (and has a role as the President of the United States, complete with thick German accent) but it shares the typical low standards of a movie directed by him. The budget was around $1 million, which isn’t a small sum of money to you and me, but is a pittance in the movie world.
The story sees muscle-bound prisoner Jack Stone (Christian Boeving) offered an early release and reunion with his young daughter in return for planting a bomb in a nuclear plant somewhere in a remote region of Romania, where life is grim and movie-making tax subsidies are plentiful. It seems that at a nearby base the pesky US government has been experimenting with a bacteriological weapon with the aim of producing a super soldier, but the fallout from an accidental explosion has resulted in residents of the nearby town turning into ravenous zombie-like creatures. To be honest, judging by the brief peek at the drab life endured by one victim I’d imagine that zombification would bring some much-needed excitement into their lives.
Stone accepts the mission and is teamed up with a pair of mercenaries. The first is Dragan Ilic (Daniel Vivian), a crack shot who can ‘hit a mouse’s head from a mile away’ but whose weapon of choice is a bolt action rifle which means he can only reel off one shot every ten seconds or so, which isn’t really much use when you’ve got a horde of ravenous Romanian zombies coming at you. Needless to say, Dragan doesn’t survive to see the promised pay-day. The second mercenary is John ‘Mad Dog’ McKellen (Mike Mitchell), a canny Scot who’s a whizz with bombs but not so hot with the chat-up lines, which means he gets the cold shoulder from the fourth member of the band, the exotically named Eden Shizuka (Tara Cardinal), who sounds like she should be Asian but is actually a white redhead. Eden says nothing for the first hour or so, which is supposed to make her mysterious, but the only mystery about her is how she got a reputation as a master swords-woman when she barely seems capable of pointing her weapons in the right direction. You wouldn’t exactly pin your hopes on this lot saving humanity, but I guess you have to be a little circumspect when you’re trying to keep the fact that there are zombies on the loose a secret from the world.
To be honest, you never really see more than a dozen zombies at once, and they’re completely absent for large chunks of time while the disparate group of mercenaries engage in endless rounds of boring dialogue that do little to advance the plot but which are cheaper than shooting action scenes. When we do finally get a good look at them it’s quite a surprise to discover that their make-up is actually quite convincing for this level of movie, so credit is at least due to the make-up department. The directors need to decide whether these zombies are slow-motion stumblers or Olympic standard sprinters though, because we get both here.
Apocalypse Z is a bad movie, have no doubt about it. It lacks any degree of tension or suspense, and has long periods in which nothing much at all happens. The quality of the acting ranges from barely adequate to unbearable, and the clashes with zombies are poorly choreographed due to fairly atrocious directing from Boni and Ristori, who for no apparent reason choose to film in bleached out colours that border on black and white at times. And yet, for all these criticisms there is a level of trashy enjoyment to be gained from Apocalypse Z that at least makes it one of the better crap movies.