Apocalypse Z (2013)

Naughty naughty American government. Another one of their secret biochemical research programmes has gone wrong. “Project K” has accidentally unleashed a zombie(ish) apocalypse on a small eastern European town – whoops! – and the evil General Carter (Carl Wharton) has decided on one course of action; detonate a nuke in the local power-plant. Problem solved.

He gives this assignment to a bunch of mismatched mercenaries. One is an explosives expert, the other the greatest sniper on Earth, another a hand-to-hand genius…

This collection of clichés is topped off by treasonous giant thug Lieutenant Jack Stone (Christian Boeving), who is pulled from maximum security prison to lead the group. Why? Who knows? Maybe because every other soldier was busy?

Unfortunately this group of army slags find themselves alone and betrayed in the city of the dead and must escape before the bomb goes off…

Originally titled Zombie Massacre and swiftly changed in the lead-up to World War Z’s release, Apocalypse Z is bad. Laughably bad. In fact, it’s so laughably bad that I genuinely believe the filmmakers either didn’t try or didn’t care or – as a third possibility – actually WANTED to make a hilariously-bad movie.

But hey, it’s a zombie apocalypse movie, so it’s gotta be action packed right? Right? Well…

The characters in Apocalypse Z frequently talk about the overwhelming odds and their terribly impossible situation, but there never seems to be much of a threat. These trained killers could easily destroy 8 zombies, but they seem to immediately panic when encountering anything. Despite this fear, they also proceed to stop at every possible opportunity to shoot the undead, hand-to-hand fight them or – on one occasion – twat a small zombie girl in the face with a baseball bat. For no reason. It’s baffling.

One of the most notably odd things about Apocalypse Z is ‘accents’. This United States mission is run by English, Scottish, Irish and Eastern Europeans, which includes the Secretary of State for the United States of America, who’s British. It’s very, very peculiar and you genuinely get no sense of place throughout. It’s a giant collection of accents, some native, some forced, all leading to a bloody confusing – and at times hilarious – mess.

Perhaps the best accent – and the reason I believe Apocalypse Z is at least self-knowingly shite – is that of the President of the United States, who is played with absolute disdain by Uwe Boll. It’s a random and insane cameo, and quite, quite brilliant.

I have complained about World War Z having zombies that acted in inconsistently (mainly in the final act, for sadly well-documented reasons) but the zombies in Apocalypse Z win the prize for ‘most random’. The make-up department seems to have tried out every possible zombie make-up available in the world, ever.

There are bloated zombies, ones with boils, people with no lips, Resident Evil ‘Nemesis’ rip-offs, some with just a tiny bit of blood on, others that have growths sticking from bizarre places, veiny ones, a couple who looked like they were made of wood and spaghetti. It’s a hodgepodge undisciplined mess with a mixture of excellent and awful make-up special effects.

But this doesn’t particularly matter considering they’re not even proper zombies. Not only do they run and jump like drunk freerunners, they can also die by being shot in the chest, stomach, neck… basically anywhere. One got shot in the arm and went down. Not exactly sticking to canon, is Apocalypse Z

However, the practical effects can be considered phenomenal when faced with the CGI, which is incredibly poor. Crap smoke effects, terrible gunshot wounds, awful cityscapes, hilariously rendered explosions. All they’re missing is a giant shark…

A lot of Apocalypse Z’s failings boil down to failures in scripting. The script is incredibly dull and over-written, with many elongated conversations that you pray will end sooner. Half of them don’t make sense or seem to be written by someone with only half a grasp of the English language. Want an example? Try this: “The area should be considered as safe but not safe”.

What?! Safe but NOT safe!? What?!

The film also very-obviously packs out a flimsy central plot with some needlessly-extended flashbacks of some minor characters, and the soldiers randomly bump into a scientist’s daughter and a couple of ‘American’ holidaymakers just to beef up the head-count and ‘plot’.

Despite all this I do believe (perhaps ‘hope’ is the correct word) that writers/directors Luca Boni and Marco Ristori deliberately laced the script with ‘accidentally’ hilarious dialogue in order to make the film more… cultish. My favourite line is when the Doctor Neumann says to his daughter “Don’t contact me for any reason. But stay in touch.”

Genius!

So how do I rate this? It think it gets one skull just for Uwe Boll’s ridiculous 30 second cameo and another skull for the utterly exploitative ‘epilogue’… which gives this super-film a shockingly-high score of three skulls.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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