Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Holy Crap! A Movie That Didn't Suck

Exit Humanity (2011) Canada

Having just seen what was probably the worst zombie movie on record (see following entry for Undead) I was prepared for yet another nasty nugget of zombie lore recreated. And I was pleasantly surprised... this movie is about the rise of zombies shortly after the Civil War (no President Lincoln is NOT in it) and it actually has the elements of a good movie, a clear storyline, people we can care about, and an interesting progression with a good ending. In other words, where the hell have they been hiding this one? Even at 108 minutes, it's worth a look. 

What probably makes this zombie movie work when most don't is that this concentrates just as much if not more on the people's struggle to survive than on zombie killing. Like The Walking Dead, it recognizes that the human aspect is very important, both for holding our attention and for making a zombie apocalypse that much more real to us. In fact, at one point they even describe the zombies as the walking dead. And our story begins:

A journal is being written by Edward Young, who upon the end of the Civil War, returns home to wife and son and enjoys a simple but pleasant life in 1865 Tennessee. That changes abruptly when he leaves for a two day hunting trip. When he returns, his son is missing and his wife is a zombie, whom he has to destroy, and we really feel for him as in agony he buries her (kind of reminiscent of the TWD scene of Sophie's end). In his journal he reports that these creatures are showing up more and more and no one knows from where. Desperate to find his son, he gathers everything he can, burns down his house (I guess a symbol that he knows he will never be coming back.) and starts his search. 

The journal is both his tale telling tool, and also animation sequences are used for certain scenes, simple but compelling. He finds his son - also zombified. In agony he holds his son (very carefully) before destroying him. He burns the body and gathers the ashes into a container, as he had promised his son that one day he would take him to Ellis Falls, a place he drew that he said during the War gave him peace. He plans to keep that promise. Again, the human element in the story makes it more compelling, although there are plenty of zombie killing scenes to remind you this is a tragic story, not just for him but for the United States.

He encounters a man named Isaac and is persuaded to help him rescue his sister from power mad former General Williams and his men, who are experimenting on unaffected humans, in the guise of trying to find a 'cure'. At first he is captured and thrown in with the poor prisoners, but Isaac soon comes to his rescue, saving not only him but his sister Emma. Edward is shot during the escape however, but Emma knows where they can go for help - the home of a suspected witch Eve (Dee Wallace) who knows some medicine as well as other things she keeps to herself. He heals quickly thanks to her, and the three stay with her. She had dug pits around her cabin to trap any zombie intruders, so she sets the men at work to make more traps as payment for staying with her. One day Emma is bitten and Isaac wants her shot right away - until she reveals that while caring for an old man who went zombie on her, she was bitten in the shoulder, and did not turn. She is immune, the cure, or at least the start of a new generation free of zombies.

This is somehow discovered by the General and his men and they recapture Emma for their own experiments, hoping to make some kind of serum or something from her. Her brother tries to save her but is killed. As Edward prepares to rescue her, Eve comes clean with her secret. She had a much younger sister who, while in town, had been grabbed by several men who raped her, getting her pregnant. Not wanting the child, she was going to make arrangements to abort it but was found out and being condemned for 'murder' was hanged. Eve watched as the whole town cheered her death - and then isolated herself in the woods, far away from anyone. In her anger and grief, she studied some ancient scrolls she had in her possession, some of which described how to reanimate the dead. She dug up her sister and reanimated her - thus starting the zombie outbreak. He is shocked, but understands her grief and doesn't condemn her. He's had enough of humanity anyway - the War, the loss of his family, these degenerate men using people for their own purposes - he thinks humanity needs an 'exit'. He studies the scrolls and, this is not real clear, but apparently makes himself look and... I don't really know, as if he is one of them.

Using a cry that gathers the zombies to him (they don't attack him) he leads them to the General and his men and they slaughter them all as he rescues Emma yet again. Returning to the empty cabin (Eve had been killled) Edward further studies the scrolls and begins to understand. Zombie outbreaks had supposedly been reported throughout history in every country - usually because of the evil of man caused some to use those ancient scrolls (Where did all these scrolls come from anyway? Oh well...). He now sees that this is a chance for a new beginning, not just for himself and Emma, but for men in general. Out of the ashes he sees a new nation being forged, maybe being for the better because of the horror they had to go through.

 Okay, this may have been a bit long, a bit preachy and some might say more a soap opera than a zombie movie, but I found it touching, Edward's grief being genuine both for himself and others, and I liked the journal aspect, both the writing and the animation used throughout. If you get a chance, check this one out.