24 July 2011
Zombie Drugs 2011 - REVIEW
Over the past month or so I've done several posts on a new film from Alex Ballar called Zombie Drugs. After reading up on it and watching the trailers, my interest was peaked so I contacted Alex and requested an interview which he and Beau Nelson graciously did... TWICE. This however, is a different kind of post because I was fortunate enough to be one of the few that screened Zombie Drugs at it's world premiere at the Action on Film Festival last night. So technically this will be the first review done for it :) Yay me!!
Zombie Drugs centers around Vinny (Wolfgang Weber) and Sebastian (Beau Nelson) two burnouts going nowhere... nowhere but in search of the perfect high that is. They're fed up with the less than satisfying drugs they're getting from their dealer (Bobby Burkey) and decide to go into business for themselves. With some help from Sebastian's jealous girlfriend Kara (Susan Graham) and Melissa (Natalie Irby) who funds their little adventure, they strike a deal with the mob to supply them with a start up batch. When temptation gets the better of them and they decide to "test" their batch they find it's nothing but placebo. Panicked, pissed and indebted to the mob Sebastian comes up with a plan to make their own batch and include a secret ingredient that will make it one of the greatest highs EVER! Too bad their secret ingredient is turning everyone into zombies.
One of the best things about this film was its cast. From the main characters to characters who spent less than five minutes on screen, they all gave 100%. Nelson gives what I can only assume is the performance of his career. Given that his character is a dead beat drug addict desperately searching for his next fix, you'd think he would come off as despicable but Nelson brings such energy to the role that he becomes more endearing than anything else. He is consistently funny throughout and the onscreen chemistry he has with his co-stars brings a refreshing vibe to the entire film. Weber does an amazing job bringing Vinny to life. The internal struggle his character deals with throughout the film seems genuine and at times heart warming and he plays it to a tee. Graham is hilarious as Sebastian's jealous girlfriend and I found myself laughing out loud at the interaction between the two of them on several occasions. Irby brings a certain charm to the film and really seems to be the most grounded drug addict of them all. Yes, I know how that sounds. I loved the transformation her character goes though from beginning to end. Ballar plays Vinny's brother who died from an overdose of heroine. He's basically the moral compass of the film, popping in at the most inopportune times to be Vinny's voice of reason.
The film benefits from some really great writing. Ballar pulls out all the stops with this script. He's written some very witty and very funny dialogue. It's well paced and has some of the most well developed characters I've seen in a long time. The film itself has great picture quality and doesn't suffer at all from the shoddy sound that has become notorious in most Indie films. Watching it you'd never guess that it was shot in only 10 days or that it's the first full length feature Ballar has directed. He's quickly carving a name for himself using his blood, sweat and tears and personally, I'll make it a point to watch whatever he puts out next. Details, details, details... it's all about the details and it's clear that a lot of attention went into piecing this little gem together. Evan Goldman delivers a great score that lends a lot to the film. It's not over powering in any way and as any composer would tell you, that means they've done their job well. Goldman also did most of the post production sound. The Asphalt provided some great music to the soundtrack that I wouldn't mind adding to my CD collection. I may just have to look them up on iTunes.
One of the things I like most about this film is that it never takes itself too seriously, especially considering the subject matter. It has some genuinely funny moments that come off with ease. As always, there will be haters. I'm sure someone will say they're glorifying drug addiction and blah, blah, blah but it will be those people that didn't take the time to sit and watch it all the way through. I was entertained the whole way through and it wasn't until the end that I realized I'd hardly taken any notes. And I'm a note taker! I tend to bust out 2-3 full pages of notes on a film. Now, dear readers, don't go into this film expecting to see oodles and gobs of blood and gore because you wont find it. In fact, don't go into it looking for horror at all. It's NOT a horror film. Yes, I know it's called Zombie Drugs but the title more references what drugs can do to someone over time. BUT, if you're interested in seeing a solid, well built comedy then this is one for you. It will definitely have you rolling.