Bled White (2009) 1 brain1 brain1 brainhalf brain

The story of a zombie outbreak that brings down civilization as we know it has been done so many times that avid zombie fans can create their own handbooks on surviving it. Recently, I've seen more and more films on what comes after, when those who have survived the outbreak have adjusted to the presence of zombies in the world, and are figuring out a new way of life, which really has the potential for much more interesting stories. The characters in an outbreak movie are mostly just trying to figure out how to stay alive in the next five minutes, whereas in a post-apocalypse story, they've figured that part out, but are now trying to figure out where to go from there.

In Bled White, director Jose Carlos Gomez brings us a series of vignettes that tie together a la Pulp Fiction, with storylines skipping back and forth in time and intersecting at various points. To say that this movie is "like Pulp Fiction," though, is not giving enough credit to its originality and creativity. It's not a derivative movie by any means. The film is definitely low-budget, but well-shot and recorded, and the amount that I enjoyed it is testament to Carlos Gomez's skill as a writer and director.

It's a bleak setting: it's a freezing cold winter, food is hard to come by, and even wild game are scarce. The government is supposed to drop off a box of supplies every six months at select locations, but they're not always on time. As one character, Ed, puts it (and I'm paraphrasing), the only ones left alive are the ones who will do whatever it takes. For Matt and Ed (Matthew E. Prochazka and North Roberts), this means killing strangers and carving them up to trade for food. (They won't eat the strangers themselves. They do have some limits.) Despite this, Carlos Gomez manages to make them seem like not bad people. They care about each other and their other acquaintances (to an extent); it's just strangers that they're willing to sacrifice.

The strength of this film is in the writing. I don't want to say too much, because one of the pleasures of this film is discovering the ways that all the stories touch each other. Carlos Gomez makes connections in surprising ways. Matt and Ed are the common thread that ties the rest of the stories together, but the other characters in the film are just as interesting. Each of them has his or her own ways of coping, which have gotten them to this point, but may or may not continue to be successful.

There are bloody parts to the movie, and the zombies are pretty well made up, but gore is not the focus of the film. That isn't to say that this is a snoozer, either. Carlos Gomez strikes a good balance between action and non-action, building to a pretty good finale.

I don't know how easy it will be to find this film. I got it as a screener, so you may need to search the web to see if there's a site through which it's available. But I think most zombies fans will enjoy this film.