11 October 2010

Wolf Wolff's The Beast Within (AKA Virus Undead) 2008 - REVIEW

It's no secret that Germany did quite a bit to shape the face of early horror, but while its primary contributions lie in its early years, the story of German horror movies extends all the way up to the present day. German horror is said to have inspired American monster films such as Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy. That may be the case but it's fairly safe to say that this film will not be inspiring anything more than a bonfire.

After his scientist grandfather (Joost Siedhoff) dies, medical student Robert (Philipp Danne) and some friends return to his hometown to settle the estate. Along the way they pick up an ex-girlfriend, now running her parents gas station and studying biology on the side and her best friend. Once at the estate, they discover his grandfather had been infecting birds with a virus that, when transferred, causes corpses to reanimate and search out human flesh. They soon find themselves surrounded by zombies with nowhere to run.

So much is wrong with this film I don't even know where to start. I guess the box art is the best place to begin. This film wouldn't stand up next to a turd out of Alfred Hitchcock's ass much less a classic like The Birds. So it's not only laughable that they would call it Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds meets Outbreak but blasphemous. On top of that, I don't see the point in having the entire cast speak English when it's clear they're in Germany. I've been to Germany several times and I can tell you if they don't have to speak English, they don't. The voice over work is just terrible, especially with Marlene (Birthe Wolter) and in several scenes the lip action (yes I just said lip action) doesn't match up with the words. My point?? If the plan is to have them speak English, why not bring in actors that actually speak English well enough to make it through the whole film? Or if their target audience was the US they could've just shot it all in German and used subtitles. It wouldn't be the first time that was done.

The film tries too hard to capture the typical (over exaggerated) hillbilly cliches. There's the "unlikeable town cop" who wears over sized sunglasses and would rather stand around and eat donuts than actually police. The "town bully" outfitted in leather with tattoos and a goatee who works at a restaurant in the middle of the woods that makes hot dogs out of roadkill. Why not try something different? The whole hillbilly things is out dated and over used, even in American film making. Then... OMG, get this.... then the meager young things they picked up at the gas station go all Resident Evil on the zombies. They're kicking their asses with some moves that would make Milla Jovovich cower in fear. And all I could think was "I didn't see that coming."

From beginning to end, it's just a cluster fuck of scenes pasted together to take up more screen time. There's a car crash at the beginning that is never referenced again. No explanation of why the car crashed or what happened to the occupants. Another scene somewhere in the middle shows a couple of guys hanging out in the middle of the road and when they finally pull off, there's a frog. No, I'm not kidding. The direction was strong enough that had most of it been left on the cutting room floor it wouldn't have been a terrible short film.

Four times, I repeat, four times I tried to watch this film and even as I sit here and write this review all I can think of is "Why does it sound like someone is walking around upstairs when I'm home by myself?" Yes, it's that bad. I don't recommend it, not even to zombie enthusiasts. The dialogue is terrible, the acting is even worse and the plot is paper thin. Just take a look at the trailer below and you'll get the gist of it from that.

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