Review: Walking Among the Dead
We begin Walking Among the Dead with a horde of shuffling zombies that look eerie from a distance, but less and less so as they keep walking. Any creepiness vanishes as soon we see get close-ups of the zombies’ faces: apparently zombification only affected this particular horde’s facial region. And this sums up what will continue to plague the film, that from a distance, it’s great stuff, but upon even the slightest inspection it begins to fall apart.
The story here mostly focuses on the main character (forget his name, according to IMDb it could be Hayden, but don’t want to be incorrect) who lives underground in the sewers below a town. It’s quite an ingenious idea once I got to thinking about it, and I’m glad a movie put it to use. Well, before long, supplies are dwindling and he and his one-armed buddy (other arm is in a sling) venture skyward to see what can be seen. Once there, they come across a few other interesting characters, and many, many encounters with zombies, as they try to make their way to Roanoke (in one scene, the main character lunges out the window head-first, lands, does a roll, gets up and continues to run. It was so impressive that I rewound it to watch again).
You’re left to get your own meaning from any dialogue, because the acting is more wooden than a pirate’s leg. Monotone delivery graces your ears as you struggle to decipher what was meant, and how you’re supposed to feel about it. At a few different times there’s huge chunks of dialogue from an actor, making a point about humanity, the current zombie world, etc, but it’s so heavy-handed, flat and obvious that it seems out of place and unnatural. With a bit better acting and less hitting-us-over-the-head these scenes could have been captivating. Well, at least thought-provoking.
The zombie make-up is pretty sad and basic, being just white face paint with some black streaks and blood, mostly. Here and there they dabbled in gashes and wounds. One of the last scenes was really great though, FX-wise: a standard intestine-ripping-out scene, but very gory and well done, surpassing its zero-budget restraints. As bad as the make-up is though, it doesn’t really matter too much (unless it’s erasing the home viewer’s feelings of atmosphere), as the zombies aren’t the focus here. They’re all rather interchangeable and are just kind of there, lurching around, and every once in a while giving us a scare.
The scares are always accompanied with a chilling soundtrack. I really thought the music here picked up some of the slack, and helped set the tone of the film immensely.
Walking Among the Dead’s tagline is “a new vision in zero budget zombie cinema,” and it’s right, it is. As far as zero-budget zombie flicks go, this one is close to the top of the pile. It does have all the pitfalls and mainstays of a zero-budget zombie movie, such as awful acting, an entire cast of 20-somethings (there was a single adult at one point), and pitiful make-up, but the story is decent and, like all great zero-budgeters, it aspires to be more than it can possibly be.
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