Zombie Town (2007)
Night of the Creeps 2: Zombie Town
Sometimes the best of intentions isn't enough. Writer/director Damon Lemay clearly has a love of filmmaking, because people don't pour the effort into making a feature film if they don't. He might also love the zombie genre in particular, but I suspect that the zombie film gets chosen by a lot of budget filmmakers not because they love the genre but because the basic plot can almost write itself, and the main antagonists, the zombie horde, are not required to have any acting skills other than being able to sit still long enough for the makeup to be applied. However, with love of the genre or not, if the script and acting are lacking then the whole endeavor suffers.
I'm not sure how much I can blame the actors in the case of Zombie Town. The material they had to work with was stilted and forced, and maybe they were doing the best with what they had, but I think actors with more skill could have made the dialogue more palatable. Lemay was going for a horror comedy, so I think a lot of the dialog was supposed to seem ridiculous, but there's a big difference between ridiculous and funny.
There were three main protagonists, a pair of ex-lovers (Adam Hose and Brynn Lucas) and the town jerk (Dennis Lemoine). Of the three, I think Lemoine could have done more with better dialog and better direction, but the character he was given was so artificial that he couldn't do much about it.
In the story, brothers Jake (Hose) and Denton (Phil Burke) are running their father's auto mechanic shop into the ground. Jake is clueless about cars despite having been a mechanic for several years, and can't seem to bring himself to care whether the business goes under or not. Jake and Denton head out into the woods to haul what appears to be an abandoned pickup truck, where they run into Jake's ex Alex (Lucas), who's back in the area after her mother's death. It turns out the truck belongs to some hunters who were all either slaughtered by, or became, zombies, and the infection appears to be spreading to the nearby small town of Otis. Otis has recently been cut off from the rest of civilization by a gas truck accident on the only highway leading to town, so the locals are on their own.
I have to say I liked the first five minutes of the movie, which showed the beginnings of the infection with the hunters who owned the truck. It was corny, but it drew me in and made me interested. Once the main story started, though, things started going downhill almost immediately. This trend continued until about two-thirds of the way through, when action took over the plot, and then things picked up again to a passable conclusion. I just wish the rest of the movie had been able to hold it together.
Another thing I did like about this film was the zombie concept, although it had some flaws as well. The zombies are people who have been infected by a mutant slug. The slug injects some kind of chemical into the host's nervous system, destroying most of the brain except the part that controls aggression. The slugs can reproduce asexually, so if a slug is by itself inside a host, it can produce more slugs, which can then be passed to other hosts through the bloodstream. The obvious flaw with this is the transmission from host to host. The slugs seem to reproduce simply by dividing, like a one-celled animal, so it's not like there are lots of eggs floating around inside the zombie. To pass into a new host means that there must be a slug hanging out in the zombie's mouth, waiting for him to bite someone so it can quickly scamper into the open wound of the new host. This seems farfetched at best. And if I misunderstood the infection process, well, it probably could have been explained better.
Watching the movie was a little like watching someone build a model airplane with mittens on. They know what the final product should look like, and they can get the general shape right, but the end result doesn't quite come together smoothly. I can see what Lemay was going for, but he just didn't get there.