Anyone that watches a SyFy Channel original movie on occasion knows that they rarely offer real chills. That doesn't mean that some of the films don't have a demented sort of charm. Grade A cheese, the best of the bunch tend to be hysterically unapologetic creature feature schlock. One of the main contributors to the SyFy channel brand is a film production studio aptly called The Asylum. Oh how I dread The Asylum, a company responsible for some mind numbing embarrassments which rip-off current trends or big budget features. I hate that usually their movies fail to even qualify as dumb fun (and really, that's all I expect). Well, The Asylum is capitalizing on the on-going undead infatuation with "Zombie Apocalypse." And while no means a classic, at least it fares slightly better than their other recent endeavors. But here's the deal. While I am more than content to watch just about anything zombie related for free, would I really invest in a DVD purchase for this title? Ultimately, the answer is probably no. There is simply too much competition in this overcrowded genre, and much of it is quite good.
"Zombie Apocalypse" gets off to a rollicking start with the virtual destruction of the world. The opening is clever and colorful and really had my hopes set high. But after the brief introduction, we're plunged into very familiar territory. A group of three friends stumble into town after being isolated for about six months--they're hoping the zombie problem has solved itself. Well, it doesn't take long for that dream to go up in smoke. After a brutal attack, they are joined by another group of travelers who are headed to Catalina Island (a known safe zone). Together they must cross Los Angeles. My favorite sequence comes late in the picture where our group is downtown and the next scene they are in Long Beach--wow! There really isn't much more to the plot. It really just boils down to who will survive and what will be awaiting them. I hazard to think how tiny little Catalina Island is the destination for every living soul in America!
On the plus side, the film features some likable actors. Ving Rhames is certainly the headliner and he provides solid support. But really this is an ensemble piece and several actors whom I didn't know actually served up pretty decent performances (Johnny Pacar and Gary Weeks specifically). Taryn Manning, on the other hand, was given the movie's most useless role--that of a completely helpless victim. In the entire movie, she kills exactly one zombie. The rest of the time she cries for help or runs away while others do battle. Pretty pathetic. The zombie effects are good enough for this low budget production and the battles are well choreographed. It isn't "The Walking Dead" by any means from a technical standpoint, but it works for what it is. And the final battle, as bizarre and out-of-left-field as it is, had a silliness that appealed to me. All in all, the movie was much better than I expected. But would I ever watch it again? Not likely. About 2 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 11/11.