Dead Moon Rising (2007) 1 brain1 brainhalf brain

Voiceovers are weird. Sometimes they complement a story beautifully, especially if they're by Morgan Freeman. Sometimes they seem really out of place, or just seem like the result of a writer too lazy to think of good expository dialog. In Dead Moon Rising, director/writer Mark E. Poole has a twist on this: the actover. By this I mean that the character doing the voiceover actually appears in the scenes he's describing, but as an invisible observer. For instance, he looks on with mortification at one of his formative childhood experiences as he narrates what's going on. Does the actover work? I think so, better than a voiceover would have. The actover lets us see the character (Jim, played by Jason Crowe) making wry faces, drawing us into his narrative a little more, and it's also different enough that it keeps the movie from seeming like all the other zombie movies that start out with a voiceover describing how it all went down.

The actover exemplifies Poole's general approach to the movie: irreverent, light-hearted, and with enough creativity to make it stand out from other movies at this production level. You've heard the basic plot before: it's the zombie apocalypse, and a band of survivors has to deal with their internal strife as well as the hordes of ravening undead. It's the details that make things interesting. Jim is a car rental store manager, working with Dick (Gary Williams) and Nick (who is one of those characters that is a jackass because he's constantly doing what we all secretly want to do, played by Mike Seely). When the three of them figure out what's going on, and calling 911 takes them to a help line in India, they decide to set out on their own to try to find a safe place. Along the way they pick up some zombie movie tropes: the slightly nutty religous zealot and her awkward son, the young, vulnerable hot girl whose family just died (Erica Goldsmith), and the less tropish kick-ass zombie warrior queen Vix (Tucky Williams), who just happens to be an ex-love interest of Jim's. But even though you feel like you've seen all these characters before, Poole is aware of this, and tongue is firmly enough in cheek to bring the viewers in on the joke.

When all is said and done, though, this is still a budget movie, with all that that means: spots of bad acting or clunky writing, production quality issues, and cheap special effects. People with low tolerance for that kind of thing may want to look elsewhere for entertainment. But if you've seen enough really bad low-budget zombie films like I have, you'll recognize this as being a cut above the rest, and worth checking out.