I had to think for a while before I wrote this review. While Battle Apocalypse (aka Chrysalis) bills itself as another entry in the zombie sub-genre, it really doesn’t play out that way, and in the end, that’s one of this movie’s strengths and inversely, one of its greatest weaknesses. This movie wants to be a drama between the main characters, and it is, but it’s the setting that get in its way.
Penelope (Sara Gorsky) and Joshua (Cole Simon) make their way through the broken remnants of civilization 25 years after the apocalypse that has almost destroyed humanity. Carefully picking through the remains of society during the day and hiding from the hordes of ‘the infected’ (this is one of the many new movies in the zombie sub-genre that refer to their main antagonists as anything but ‘zombies’) at night, they search for food, water, and other survivors.
One night, after finding a huge cash of food, they rest in their hiding place. While Joshua cooks, Penelope returns to her reading lessons. While both were born after the fall of humanity, Joshua was taught how the read and write, while the group that Penelope belonged was never able to teach her the same skills. Suddenly they hear a noise and investigating, they come across Abira (Tanya Thai McBride) and another survivor (Nick Cardiff) who has been bitten. He bids her to stay with Penelope and Joshua, and silently tells her not to reveal her secret. While sharing their stores, Abira tells the two about a larger group she belonged to. The group is attempting to take back the city, and since numbers mean a greater chance of survival, they make their way to the groups rendevous site.
However, something’s different. Other then just roaming through the broken remains of the city mindlessly seeking human flesh, ‘the infected’ seem to be pursuing the group. The reason will reveal Abira’s secret, and may spell doom for the small group of survivors.
Battle Apocalypse is what you may term a ‘small’ movie. While it takes place during the ‘large’ context of humanities apocalypse, it’s really about the relationship between the two protagonists and the fears that drive them. Joshua is the hardened survivor who is haunted by the fear he may not be able to protect Penelope, and she, her childlike nature exaggerated by her illiteracy, the fear she may not be able to give Joshua the child she believes he wants above all else. Once Abira enters, with her terror of being left alone, the drama starts to unfold. Joshua is suspicious of the secret she’s hiding, and Penelope fears that Abira will be able to give Joshua what she’s seemingly unable to.
When all is said and done, Battle Apocalypse isn’t a bad movie, though it’s far from great. While it’s well directed and acted, there isn’t the emotional payoff one would expect from a drama nor what you would want from a ‘zombie apocalypse’ feature. In the end both aspects seem forced. The story between the characters is more often shoe-horned to fit the zombie sub-genre, and the over-all setting of the zombie flick seems to be there just to take advantage of the sub-genre’s popularity, almost to the point of it being more of a marketing ploy.
The background is sparse to show the effects of humanities fall, but you can tell that this movie was filmed in an abandoned industrial park, cheated to show movement from one place to another. The voice over says their working their way through the remains of a city, but the ‘city’ is shown from far off and we really never get feeling they’re actually there. Also, while we are led to believe ‘the infected’ are always on the prowl, even during the climax you never get the feeling of over-whelming numbers one would have for the zombies to be the threat they are positioned as.
If you’re looking for the typical zombie flick, this may not be for you. The attacks are perfunctory, and the gore one would expect is the same. The special effects are workman-like; yet nothing one would feel the need to expound over cocktails. It’s the drama that drives this movie, and it’s slow to develop. In the end, Chrysalis fails to give the excitement of the sub-genre and, because there’s too many questions left either unanswered or presented, satisfaction of the drama’s finish. However, if you want to take a look at something that’s desperately trying to expand the boundaries of the zombie flick, this may be worth your time.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): John Klein
Writer(s): Ben Kurstin
Stars: Sara Gorsky, Cole Simon, Tanya Thai McBride
Release: February 24, 2015
Studio/ Production Co: Glass City Films
Language: English Length: 140 minutes
Sub-Genre: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction