ZA: Zombies Anonymous (2006) 1 brain1 brain1 brain

Alternate Titles:

Last Rites of the Dead

There's been a trend recently, in both books and film, of imagining worlds in which zombies are still individuals, retaining all their memories of their previous lives, but just biologically dead. It's an easy way to comment on bigotry and the marginalization of minorities, and allows for some darkly amusing dialog and scenarios as well. It may irritate zombie purists who insist that zombies should have no personalities, and I've said myself on this site that being a zombie should be mainly defined by the absence of self. But if you're undead, craving human flesh, and can only be stopped by having your brain destroyed, it's pretty clear what kind of creature you're meant to be, regardless of other rules you may or may not follow. I've already reviewed similar movies, like American Zombie and Shatter Dead, so I figure I may as well keep it up.

In ZA we follow Angela (Gina Ramsden) as she tries to adjust to being undead after being shot by her unstable boyfriend Josh (Joshua Nelson). Something has occurred so that anyone that dies after that point in time will come back, but old corpses are still resting happily in their graves. Naturally, when new zombies wake up, they're disconcerted to find that now they're going to rot and have to deal with the physical effects of the manner in which they died. And of course, the living are understandably uncomfortable with all these reminders of their own mortality walking around. The dead want to pretend like they're still living, and the living want the dead to stay dead. Various people deal with this in various ways. Some zombies join support groups where they sit around making supportive noises to each other about how much it sucks to be dead. Some zombies embrace their zombieness, seeing themselves as the next step in human evolution. Some living try to treat the dead with the same respect they used to get, and others of the living form vigilante armies to try to wipe the dead from the face of the Earth. Angela and Josh each find themselves feeling ambivalent about which path to take, while tensions on both sides of the divide continue to rise.

It's always tricky to say that a movie is "good for a budget movie", because it tends to belittle the intrinsic value that the movie has. So I won't say that here. Director/writer Marc Fratto brings us a good story, and although the effects could be better in some cases, they're good enough to pass muster. The writing is gritty without being over the top, and Fratto manages to make the lack of polish seem like part of the grittiness. The only real complaint I had was that some of the fight scenes tended to drag on too long, and some of the editing in the fight scenes made it difficult to tell who was who. There was so much blood everywhere that you couldn't even always be sure who was alive, who was undead, and who was really dead.

Zombiephiles will enjoy this film as more evidence that good indie zombie films do exist, and those new to the genre still have an interesting story to watch, if they don't mind the sprays of blood and guts. If you can track it down, do youself a favor and watch this for something different.