So you’ve awoken to some distressing news – it’s the zombie apocalypse. The people on the telly are urging you lock your doors and steer clear of individuals with chunks of their head missing, as if they’re the kind of folk you’d usually invite in for tea and biscuits. To make matters worse, your once-lovely girlfriend has just tried to eat your face, which might have been a little bit kinky had she not just devoured the cat. She always did know how to kill the mood…
Anyhow, in a situation like this, it’s important not to panic. Ok, maybe panic a little; you did just witness your sweetheart chow down on Mr. Muffykins, and that sh*t is whack. No question.
But fear not! There’s still hope. Remember how you grudgingly sat through one of those awful Resident Evil films? You know, those videogame movies about a virus that escaped from the evil Umbrella Corporation and turned everyone into zombie-like mutants? Yes, you do? Well then, you’re in luck, because if there were ever a situation where something good could come from watching those braaaaain dead movies, that situation would most definitely be the zombie apocalypse.
You see, Resident Evil is a franchise that continues to defy death, now having survived three inane outings to date, the last of which even bore the encouraging name Extinction. Unfortunately, that title didn’t prove prophetic; the fourth film in the series, Resident Evil: Afterlife, is now upon us, and despite the addition of 3D, it’s just as flat as its predecessors.
Afterlife has been written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Death Race), although doodled and butchered by Paul W.S. Anderson would have been much more accurate. Having yet to repent for ruining two classic horror franchises with Alien vs. Predator, Anderson is now getting his kicks plagiarising scenes straight from The Matrix, among other superior films, as he runs the classic zombie mythology into the ground. If George A. Romero were dead, he’d most definitely be turning in his grave. But given he’s still alive, I’ll assume he’s just a little bit miffed.
In this installment, Anderson has discovered his favorite new gimmick – slow motion. He uses it like he doesn’t know how to turn it off; people casually walk in slow motion, stand in the rain in slow motion and, on occasion, fight in slow motion. Had Afterlife played at full speed, it probably would have lasted all of 15 minutes. Wouldn’t that have been nice.
Although the film knows not to take itself seriously, the whole debacle isn’t nearly as exciting as it should be, partly because the visual effects are consistently sloppy, but mostly because we’re given no real reason to care for anything or anyone depicted on screen. Why should we when the franchise introduces a new set of disposable cardboard characters with every movie, most of whom look like they’ve just walked off a Dolce&Gabbana photo shoot.
Among the fresh meat, Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller plays an allegedly dangerous convict – obviously a big stretch for him – while Shawn Roberts horribly hams it up as the badass villain, Albert. Admittedly, Albert is not a very badass name, but he makes up for it by insisting on wearing sunglasses deep within an underground research facility. And by golly, it doesn’t get much more badass than that.
As he tends to do with all his movies, Anderson goes out of his way to dehumanise his cast, requiring them to do little more than gruffly mutter a slice of exposition moments before their bloody demise. In fact, leading lady Milla Jovovich is just about the only one who you can be sure will survive the whole ordeal, which isn’t all that surprising given Anderson is married to Jovovich, but a real shame considering her character Alice has about as much personality as the hordes of undead she slays before brunch.
So what’s her secret to surviving the zombie apocalypse? Unfortunately for all the balding, chubby and pimply people of the world, it’s looking super sexy while decapitating things in slo-mo.
Because even zombies like a little bit of eye candy. They tend to be much juicier than the ears.