Zoombies takes place in the Eden Wildlife Zoo, a facility that specializes in housing endangered animals. The outfit is headed by Dr. Ellen Rogers (Kim Nielsen) who inherited it from her grandfather. On a seemingly routine day at the zoo, chaos erupts as the closed biological system is infected by a zombie-like virus that quickly spreads between the animals and makes them hungry for human flesh.
Zoombies is an enjoyable romp boasting truly terrifying zombie animals, as its title suggests. Admittedly, the name of the film is not exactly enticing, but the animals that represent it are extremely creepy and ravaged with bloodlust. Zoombies take a simple premise and make it into a feature-length film experience which questions how, or if, humanity would survive an epidemic like this one. Malaria, West Nile Virus, and Swine Flu are all deadly diseases that are passed from animals to humans, by insects and mammals that were not previously regarded as dangerous.
In the first ten minutes of Zoombies alone, there is an intense sequence featuring infected monkeys ripping out the eyes of a veterinary assistant; although it was touched up with CGI, it was still scary. And, instead of panning away, the viewer witnesses the act in full, which gets Zoombies off to a great, gory start. The action is well paced, with attacks spread out enough to where they are a surprise, but they are not so frequent as to be boring.
The characters in Zoombies do not fall into typical archetypes, but instead everyone naturally develops over the course of the movie with their personality shining through a little at a time. In this way, the viewer is slowly introduced to them, instead of being subjected to long exposition dumps. So much of the core cast is likeable that it’s easy to cheer for their survival, rather than begging for their death (as is so often the case).
The movie has some unexplained occurrences used to drive the story forward, but for the most par,t the realism is admirable, in spite of the wacky premise. In the aftermath of an attack even the tough characters respond with shock and fear, rather than pretending they are immune to the horror that is unfolding before them. In terms of the actual animal attacks, these are brutal and cringe-worthy in their gruesomeness.
Zoombies is produced by The Asylum, the company behind fantastically bad movies such as 3-Headed Shark Attack, Sharknado, and Santa Claws. These films are infamous for their bad storylines, flat characters, and silly concepts that make them barely watchable. But Zoombies stands out among the company’s other efforts. It’s not cut from the same cloth, bringing an elevated level of professionalism and originality that I haven’t previously seen from an Asylum release.
Not only does Zoombies have a great plot, likeable characters, and terrifying zombie animals, the dialogue wasn’t riddled with cheesy one-liners and the movie itself looks better than most of the Asylum output. There are some cheesy elements, including some funny shots of people screaming in terror, an odd chimpanzee costume, and an annoying bird that repeats everything it hears, but these idiosyncrasies are more enjoyable than they are corny.
Zoombies is a great watch that is definitely worth tuning in for, with friends or family, and even though zombified apes and lions probably won’t haunt your dreams, you may feel inclined to stay away from the zoo for a spell after watching this one.
You can catch Zoombies on Friday, May 13 when it premieres at 10 P.M. ET/PT on Fuse TV, which is kicking off a weekend-long marathon of movies that are, well, scary AF. The “Scary AF” marathon on Fuse will also feature horrifying movies including Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D; The Devil’s Tomb; 247º; Pathology and Vampire Bats. The marathon begins Friday, May 13 and runs through Sunday, May 15.
WICKED RATING: [usr 7]
Director(s): Glenn Miller
Writer(s): Scotty Mullen
Stars: Ione Butler, Andrew Asper, Lala Nestor
Studio/ Production Co: The Asylum
Length: 87 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller