Wasting Away (2007) 1 brain1 brainhalf brain

Alternate Titles:

Aaah! Zombies!!

Wasting Away asks an interesting question: How do zombies see the world? How do they see each other, and what do they actually think is going on when they come back from the dead and start walking around? You can get an idea from watching a zombie. For instance, we've seen zombie romance in Braindead, and we know that in general, zombies want to eat our brains. We've even seen some films from the zombie's point of view, as in I, Zombie: A Chronicle of Pain. Wasting Away goes a step further: What if the way zombies see the world is so fundamentally different that they think we are the monsters, and that they're still human?

This might at first seem a little implausible. How could the zombies not know they're zombies, when they're eating brains and their body parts are falling off? Wouldn't something give it away? In this scenario, four friends, Tim (Michael Terry), Mike (Matthew Davis), Cindy (Betsy Beutler), and Vanessa (Julinanna Robinson), all become zombies at the exact same time after accidentally ingesting a government experiment. (They thought it was soft serve ice cream.) When they reanimate, they all look and sound completely normal to each other, but then the camera flashes to how they really look, weird and veiny, and groaning the groans of the undead.

Filmmakers Matthew and Sean Kohnen use this technique a lot, flashing back and forth between zombie-view (in color) and human-view (black and white) to show the differences in what's really going on. The main difference seems to be that zombies sense things and react to them a lot more slowly, so to them, humans seem like characters in a sped-up video, moving jerkily and talking like chipmunks.

As the four brand-new zombies are trying to figure out what's going on, a mysterious soldier, Nick Steele (Colby French), shows up, explaining to them that they've been affected by a government serum that's been let loose on the population. Some people it drives crazy, making them move and talk really fast (he explains), and some people, like the five of them, have become super-soldiers, and it's their job to fight and contain the infected people. Unfortunately, being a super-soldier has some side effects, like losing body parts. Fortunately, things like losing body parts and getting shot don't seem to hurt you. Oh, and you also start eating brains.

If you poke too hard at this scenario, your finger will go through it, but the novelty of the idea helps you overlook the logical flaws. I also may be underestimating the power of people to convince themselves that they're something they're not. If I were in that situation, what would I want to believe, that I had become a zombie, or that I had suddenly become immune to bullets? It also becomes obvious at some point that this scenario isn't really meant to be taken that seriously. The characters are almost too willfully ignorant, and you realize that the movie is really poking fun at the extent of their self-delusion.

All in all, I enjoyed this movie. The five main characters all turn in solid performances, and the Kohnen brothers (I had to refer to them that way at least once) tell a good story, beyond just the novelty of their main idea. It wasn't without flaws: some of the implausibility stares you right in the face, and there are spots where the writing falters a bit, but I would still recommend this film to other viewers.