American Zombie (2007/Cinema Libre DVD)
D Sound: D Extras: B Feature: B+
a lot of mockumentaries out there and most of them are fantastic, hilarious
films. But even so, it almost seems a
shame to put American Zombie in the
same category. The director and
co-writer, Grace Lee, comes from a background in documentary and she maintains
the feel and aesthetic of the sort of human interest documentary that would
make the festival circuit; which is, of course, part of the joke. But what really sets American Zombie apart from Best
in Show, Borat, and This is Spinal Tap is its intelligence.
Zombie is a really smart film and instead of exaggerating character
stereotypes, this movie does exactly the opposite. It sets the established conventions of the
zombie movie's long history against the supposed “truth” of the community of
high-functioning zombies living in Los Angeles. The characters are well written and
realistically acted which, along with the predominant natural lighting and
on-the-fly style of cinematography, makes it easy to forget that you are
watching a fiction film. Except, you
know, for the zombies.
picture is in 1.33 X 1 full screen format and very obviously shot on analog
NTSC video. Similarly, the audio is very
apparently recorded on-site. One
suspects though, that these were conscious stylistic choices made to make the
movie look more like a documentary. Because of that though, the color isn't as
vibrant as it could be, there's some extra video noise, and there's a pretty
consistent fuzzy hum in the background of the audio track.
features include the theatrical trailer, a behind the scenes featurette that is
fun, but not terribly informative, and two different audio commentaries. One is with Grace Lee, the director/co-writer,
and Rebecca Sonnenshine, the other co-writer. The other audio commentary features the four
actors who play the zombies who are the subjects of the documentary. Since most people, myself included, are not
likely to sit through a single audio commentary all the way to the end,
nonetheless two, it's good to know which you're likely to enjoy more. The first, with Grace Lee, is more informative
as to the development of the concept and the process of shooting, while the
cast commentary focuses more on anecdotes from the set.
movie will get attention among horror fans even just because the title will
catch people's eyes, but this is a movie that will appeal to a wider audience. And everyone wants to be the person who
introduces their friends to that new awesome movie.
- Matthew Carrick