Monday, July 09, 2012

Avoiding the Zombie Hordes with Dead Season: A Movie Review

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Director: Adam Deyoe.

Writers: Adam Deyoe, Joshua Klausner, and Loren Semmens.

Cast: James C. Burns, Scott Peat, Marissa Merrill, Corsica Wilson, and Marc L. Fusco.

With so many zombie genre films entering the market, this reviewer is wondering if filmmakers are simply trying to capitalize in on the undead craze. Films like The Terror Experiment are simply amateurish and this film added nothing to the genre. Now, Adam Deyoe of Yeti: A Love Story and Psycho Sleepover takes a mediocre stab at this genre from the director's chair. His film, Dead Season, starts from a weak place, a poor script. From here on out, the film feels like amateur hour spent in a tropical paradise.

The film begins with the protagonist, Elvis (Scott Peat). He is a lone survivor of a zombie apocalypse. He has a friend who he can talk to on the radio. She is a mysterious figure. Eventually, he meets up with his radio mate, Tweeter (Marissa Merrill). Tweeter tries to steal from him first, but eventually they become friends. Both escape the American mainland. They hope an isolated island will bring them peace. Instead, they find a group of paranoid survivalists who feast on human flesh for sustenance. It is only a matter of time before a ranker type of meat comes knocking.

And once the undead show up a second time, you might be rooting for the characters to die! Tweeter looks annoyed in many of her scenes. Occasionally actress Merrill can stretch and display mild frustration. However, she needed to display a little more emotion to draw viewers into her character. Perhaps appearing topless was all that Merrill thought she had to bring to the role. Scott Peat as Elvis is a little more convincing in his characterization as an Emergency Medical Technician. He shows emotion more naturally than Merrill. James C. Burns, as Kurt Conrad, is also bland. An experienced actor, Burns has little to work with in the area of dialogue. His unconvincing lines are delivered without flare or passion.

This review now returns to the script. This is both Joshua Klausner and Loren Semmens' first script. So, a few mistakes are made. Character arcs are absent, tension is mostly lacking, characters behave unbelievably and the conflicts seem amateurish. On the topic of believability, would you charge into a hundred strong zombie horde to reach a nearby boat? If you said yes, then you would be dead (if the zombie apocalypse ever comes). As well, the topic of cannibalism is set up weakly. There is an irradiated zone on the island that has turned much of the vegetation to rot. Yet, there are bungalows seen in many scenes. Could they not pillage from these resort homes? Boxes of food are shown in other shots. But, cannibalism is the go to for food? This seems strange. Also, the biggest character arc in the film involves Tweeter telling Elvis her real name, Bess. She can disrobe and show her body to Elvis. So, one would think that she could easily tell him her name. This character needed more background to make her lack of words and stoicism more convincing.

There are also major problems involving dialogue. In the first act, there are many scenes without rapport. Two characters just travel around not talking to each other. Wow, this is lacking in excitement. When dialogue is spoken, it is forced. Some of that spoken dialogue feels like it was written by grade niner (no offense to students). For example, Tweeter is out exploring and she bumps into a minor villain: "what are you doing?" From the villain, "I am redhead hunting." Sign that writer up for an Oscar. Some characters are flat; they are given no dialogue at all. At this point, this reviewer was simply looking for a reason not to turn the film off.

One must then focus on the pros in Dead Season to continue. The film does display beautiful cinematography. Puerto Rico is captured in all its splendour. The music from Louis Chalif is mostly spot on. The soundtrack amplifies suitably in the action packed finale. The climax is also full of gore. Here in the final few scenes, Dead Season finally finds some excellence.

Overall, Dead Season can only be recommended to the most diehard indie film fans. There just will not be enough substance here for most zombie genre fans. Amateurish on many levels, this film hopes to cash in on the zombie film craze. Hopefully, fans will sidestep this entry in the genre just as this reviewer hopes you would sidestep a mob of roaming zombies.

Overall: 5.75 out of 10 (amateur hour, acting is average, story is inadequate, zero character arcs, conflict is uninspiring, music is solid, good cinematography).

*released on video-on-demand July 5th.

The film's fan page is here:

Dead Season on Facebook

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