Zoo follows estranged couple Karen (Zoë Tapper of Survivors) and John (Ed Speleers, Outlander) who are on the brink of divorce. The viewer sees, firsthand, just how painful the relationship has become as they sleep in the same bed, but are total strangers. However, the couple’s miserable existence is shattered when a zombie outbreak overtakes London and they become trapped in their high rise apartment waiting for rescue.
Zoo, despite the odd name that does not accurately sell the fine craftsmanship of this film, is a wild ride that takes the viewer for a whirlwind that sees the protagonists faced with outsiders, zombies, and each other. Although the film uses only one one location, it makes the most of it. The apartment building serves as a background to the excellently written characters who have fantastic onscreen chemistry. Their relationship is believable, their pain is visceral, and individually, they are charismatic and funny, making it even more enjoyable.
Karen is an especially spicy character. When the outbreak puts everything in perspective, she reveals to her husband the illicit activity she has been involved in and their personalities flesh out as they rediscover each other. While John takes some time to break out of his shell, Karen is a joy from the onset of the outbreak and watching them both grow together in the face of doom is thoroughly entertaining. Later, another couple enters their home seeking refuge. The way Karen and John fumble the entire situation provides both tension and laughter in equal measures.
Zoo is unique in that it functions as an odd sort of romantic comedy with horror elements. It never bogs the viewer down with trivial tropes or cheesy dialogue. However, as the film continues and hope fades for rescue, it makes the final act heartbreaking. I was surprised by how upset I was. I was so invested, and Karen and John’s compelling story made me almost forget about the horror show taking place outside their building.
In spite of everything Zoo gets right, it fails to stick the landing. The worst part of the film, by far, is the ending. What an unsatisfying, disappointing ending to a movie that put me through an emotional roller coaster and then just dropped me off without warning. The last five minutes of the film is full of cheesy dialogue that cheapens everything that came before it. Not to mention, the final shot made me want to throw my drink across the room. Seriously, what the hell was that? I won’t spoil it, but if you watch the film you will definitely understand what I mean.
Zoo is a great time at the movies, save for the aforementioned 5 minutes. I highly recommend checking it out if you enjoy a thoughtful character study that intertwines romance and a touch of the apocalypse. It is now available on all platforms.
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Director(s): Antonio Tublen
Writer(s): Antonio Tublen
Stars: Zoe Tapper & Ed Speleers
Release: Now available on all platforms
Studio/ Production Co: PingPong Film, Logical Pictures
Length: 95 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Horror, Romance, Comedy, Drama