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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Comedy > American Zombie (2007/Cinema Libre DVD)

American Zombie (2007/Cinema Libre DVD)


Picture: D     Sound: D     Extras: B     Feature: B+



There are 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.  American 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.


The 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.


The extra 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.


This 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


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