Several years ago a zombie outbreak devastated the human race. In the secluded, snowy town of Harmony three survivors live as close to normal lives as they can. As far as they know, they are the last people left alive on Earth. In one house lives Jack (Jeffrey Donovan) and his daughter Lu (Quinn McColgan). Across the street lives Patrick (Matthew Fox). The two men loathe each other and refuse to interact, despite the fact it has been years since they saw another human being, or a zombie. The men must attempt to put their differences aside in order to survive a new threat. The zombies have evolved, and they are now deadlier than ever.
The overall premise of this film I enjoyed. While there are horrifying monsters that become a threat later in the film, much more of the focus is on the relationship between Jack and Patrick. It is hard to imagine going for so long without human contact, when you have someone who lives right across the road from you. Their hatred is so fierce that even the end of the world won’t break it. The only thing that brings them together is their joint desire to protect Lu. Zombie movies that focus on human nature rather than the monsters are always interesting, when done correctly. The problem with the story line arose whenever there was a flashback. The film frequently used flashbacks to show tidbits of what happened when the virus initially broke out. It also reveals how these two came to hate each other. The problem is that things are revealed so slowly, and in fragmented pieces, that through most of the movie you get more and more confused until the final flashback.
The three main actors did an excellent job. I especially enjoyed Matthew Fox (Lost) as Patrick. He did an amazing job showing the effects of not interacting with other humans for nearly a decade. He is dirty, drunk, and is hearing voices. I was also pleasantly surprised by Quinn McColgan (Non-Stop). Her character was at the point where she was starting to question their solitary life and wanting more freedom to go out in the world. This can be a tricky thing to portray without sounding whiny or just generally being annoying. With the exception of a couple stupid things McColgan’s character did, she did a great job of showing that she wanted that freedom while still remaining likable. Then, of course, there is Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice). What was especially interesting about his performance is that he was the polar opposite of Fox’s character. Looking at him, you wouldn’t even realize it was the end of the world. His appearance is always nice and clean and he keeps his and his daughter’s life as normal as possible.
The special effects left something to be desired. Most of this became apparent with the sets. I understand they wanted this snowy area to look even more desolate and cold. I also understand there were a few cityscape scenes that could not have been done without CGI. That being said, the snowfall that was added in with CGI was incredibly distracting. It pointed out to me that this was a work of fiction even more so than the mutated zombies did. I’m sure the filmmakers had their reasons for choosing to add so much CGI snowfall, but I think the film would have been more visually appalling without it.
The evolved zombies are another story. They used a combination of actors and CGI, which is fine. My problem with the zombies is that the evolution doesn’t really make sense. Supposedly they adapted to their environment, but there are several problems with that idea. The first one being that they live in a snowy world, and they don’t have a stitch of hair anywhere on their bodies. How do they not freeze to death? Another problem is that for some reason the zombies evolved to be blind and rely solely on their hearing. That would be fine and dandy if they were in a dark, cave-like environment, but they’re not. The evolution of their ears is also incredibly odd to me. The ears look like bizarre, toothy mouths that open and close. The zombies may look cool and scary, but they are entirely nonsensical.
I appreciate this film’s attempt at being more than your average zombie flick. They tried to create something with a deeper story focusing on the survivors, while also updating the zombies into something more terrifying. Unfortunately, it just fell a bit flat. The survivor story aspect was at times confusing and the zombies not only didn’t fit their environment, but they simply weren’t in the film enough. The acting was definitely the high point of the movie, but it can only carry a film so far. This is one of those films where I’m not thrilled by it, but I don’t necessarily hate it either. It’s just average.
OVERALL RATING: 5/10