City of Rott (2006) 1 brain1 brainhalf brain

Usually when one person is responsible for a majority of the work on a zombie film, you should be wary. When the film is animated, it's a whole different ball of wax. For live action films, one-person productions are limited by their budget in casting, special effects, and production values, and they have shooting delays because of weather, etc. Animated films, on the other hand, are limited only by the skill and time of the artist. Voice actors would be good to have, but as Frank Sudol shows, they are not necessary. Sudol created City of Rott as a feature-length Flash animation, providing all the voices himself, even the women. Flash is a great tool for independent productions, as can be seen from the animated Flash series Xombie. The artist only needs to buy the software once, and the rest is pure labor.

City of Rott is the story of Fred, an old man searching a zombie-ridden city for a new pair of shoes, since the ones he has hurt his feet. He takes along his walker, which serves as both weapon and companion, since he carries on lively conversations with it as it tries to persuade him to stop looking for the shoes and just take cover. But when he uses the walker as a weapon, he uses it well; he can literally fight off a horde of zombies with it.

As Fred goes about the city, Sudol gives us more information about what has happened through clever use of backdrops and old newspapers. You have to pause the DVD to read the articles and find out more, but it almost seems that this was Sudol's intent, since he puts great care into their content. Apparently some parasitic worms showed up in the rain one day, and then entered the water supply. These worms get into people's brains and turn them into zombies, causing them to feed on other people in order to keep the body alive. As Sudol fills in the backstory, he's also constantly taking potshots at materialism and conformity by filling his scenes with satirical graffiti and billboards. He seems to be making the parallel that materialism and the urge to conform are the parasitic worms that inhabit our own brains, driving us to feed off each other.

Fred is not the only person left alive. He encounters several other people, almost all of whom he tries to enlist in getting him a new pair of shoes. These encounters are mostly what keeps the movie moving along, with lots of action sequences in between. After a while the action sequences start getting stretched thin, as they go on overly long and you start to recognize fight sequences that Sudol used earlier in the movie. But it's still fun to see Fred's patented walker decapitation move whenever he pulls it out.

Toward the end of the movie, the plot derails a little. Without going into it, I think I can say that there was an event that Sudol wanted to occur, but he wasn't quite sure how to get there smoothly. If you're paying attention you'll catch the significance of this event, but you have to be patient to get there.

The animation is somewhat crude, but cartoons like South Park have firmly established that if you have good writing, the quality of animation hardly matters. I found myself enjoying the film for the most part, since the thought and care that Sudol put into it were apparent. This film is more for the die-hard zombie fans than the general public, since a lot of the fun of the film is just in seeing an old man kick zombie ass. Also, if you like your animation polished, this may not be your thing. But if you're looking for something interesting and fun, give it a look-see.