Hide and Creep (2004) 1 brain1 brainhalf brain

The makers of Hide and Creep made a decent low-budget film because they've realized a simple truth: A zombie film can't take itself seriously on a low budget. I think I've observed this before somewhere in these pages, so I'll take this chance to say it again. In most cases, the acting and production values just won't be able to support serious dramatic horror. Instead, it's better to have fun with it, put the effort into the writing, and work with what you've got.

Writer (and co-director) Chance Shirley obviously knows the genre well. The opening scene shows video store owner Chuck (Chuck Hartsell, who also co-directed) debating the finer points of zombie films with a customer on the phone. Apparently there's been a run on zombie films lately because people have heard rumors of the undead and are trying to learn how to defend themselves. Despite being a zombie movie expert, Chuck is skeptical when a zombie attacks him at his store. He thinks it's a homeless person. After killing the zombie, he drops it off at the sherrif's office with a Post-It note, since the sherrif is out of town for the weekend.

While Chuck is dealing with his own zombie problems, various other protagonists across this small Alabama town are dealing with theirs: Keith (Kyle Holman), the head of a gun club; Doug (Bryan Crowsen), who has been abducted by aliens and is looking for his car and his girlfriend (in that order); Barbara (Melissa Bush), the sherrif's secretary; her ex-boyfriend Chris (Chris Hartsell); and Reverend Smith (Barry Austin), the much-put-upon pastor of the local church.

Shirley could have taken the easy route and based the humor on cheap shots at country stereotypes (Redneck Zombies, anyone?), but to me the portrayal of the characters felt more authentic than that. The humor came from the characters as small-town individuals instead of as two-dimensional targets. The actors were good enough to make me laugh out loud a couple of times, and chuckle and smile at others. Not to say there weren't some actors with less skill than others (and none of them were Al Pacino), but overall I thought they carried the film fairly well.

The makeup was the weakest point. Some makeup jobs were better than others, but the first zombie to appear had white face paint that clearly ended at his neck, so it looked pretty cheesy. Other zombies were better, but it was still never more than white face paint, darkened eye sockets, nd some splashes of blood. I got used to it pretty quickly and was able to overlook it, but it was obvious that this movie was not going to be scary in the least.

I think that true zombie film fans will enjoy this, because they know how bad zombie films can really get. This was a good effort with little money, and I think the good points outweigh the flaws.