Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Abed: It’s a New World… and We have to Survive. [Review]

There’s a common conception that the zombie genre is dying. That is to say that it has hit its peak and has nowhere to go but spit out carbon copies of past work. The Romero age is over. The Boyle age has run it’s course, and what’s left?  The zombie has evolved from the automaton, slave of voodoo lore to the fastest moving animal predator that humanity has ever seen, starving for brains and nearly unkillable. And yes, The Walking Dead is an immensely successful television program. It is playing on nearly every hard fought ideal that Romero himself helped to create. It and the brilliant comic book from where it draws its story are an homage to Romero and to the genre in general. It’s a love note for the zombie fan that you can watch, in season, every Sunday night. In turn the independent filmmakers have swarmed this genre more so than in any other decade prior. It’s always been fodder for the new “lens-er” on the block. Independent filmmakers have the very real ability to kill subgenres like this. Oversaturation breeds boredom. That brings us to today. That brings us to Ryan Lieske and the film simply called Abed, an adaptation of a story written by Bram Stoker Award winning author, Elizabeth Massie. That brings us to the next stage in the evolution of the zombie film that wasn’t necessarily started by Lieske, but of which Lieske should surely be counted as an innovator and pioneer.

From the producers of Abed:

When the world is dying… how far would you go for love? The dead walk – and are hungry. In a one small Midwestern town, the residents have learned to cope as best they can.

Meggie lost her husband, Quint, during the early days of the living dead plague. She now lives a life of quiet horror and desperation, for her mother-in-law will do anything to help the family adjust to this new world… Even the unspeakable…

I don’t want to get into the tall and long of just what this “unspeakable” is. That’s the good stuff; the stuff of perfectly orchestrated nightmares. Take the world, turn it upside down and then try to create social order from the pieces. You might find that this reconfiguration of order occurs in a number of different ways. We’ve seen the motorcycle gangs lead by Tom Savini as featured in Dawn of the Dead or even their counterparts, the defected police and anchorwoman turned survivalists. Yeah, that’s one way society might decide to pick up the pieces. But what if the plan isn’t to disintegrate from the newly discovered/created/arisen dead. What if integration is on the menu? A few movies have tackled this subject quite well. This is the evolution of the zombie film… the proof that zombie films just aren’t friggin’ dead yet. They Come Back. Fido. Even the end of Shaun of the Dead. We are witnessing society’s realization that they cannot be afraid of the unknown. It’s time to start embracing the living dead. Abed takes the edge of modern zombie lore, the new evolution and directs it forward, forming relationships that should never be formed. Stirring emotions in our protagonist/victims with which any one of us might find easy to identify. If Abed’s predecessors ask how society can turn the post-apocalypse into the new beginning, then Abed asks how society can turn the new beginning into what only might described in Peter Venkman’s words, “dogs and cats living together; mass hysteria”. It could even be said that like Romero’s Day of the Dead, the humans have become the zombies; more dangerous and terrifying then any brain eater.

Taking a look back through Abed’s campaign the guys make mention of putting 50-60% of their requested budget into the zombies. “We want authentic-looking zombies. We want you to BELIEVE them when you see them.” Cast and crew of Abed, you have accomplished this in abundance. Your zombies are first class zombies; repulsive and perfect. Folks who donated to “the cause”, your money was well spent. There’s something almost “Something to Tide You Over” in the zombies (even though they aren’t drowning victims). Less bloody open wounds and more rot. As a zombie lover (… do not take that the wrong way) these are creepy. The talent and the crew are exceptional at creating the realism that is paramount to this storyline. There’s no room for camp here. Take your Coleman grill elsewhere.

Performances from the ground up are very effective from the flesh eaters to the family. While I think we’ve all seen the crazy mother bit done to death, you’ll have to see this bitch to believe her. While we’ve are all too familiar with the stunning, helpless but strong victim, your Days of the Women are numbered. One might argue that the performance afforded by (get name) is akin to Camille Keaton from I Spit on Your Grave. You wait for the revenge, but of course this is the reconstruction of the post-post-apocalyptic world… revenge is ancillary.

Here’s a link to the campaign . I’d love for anyone planning on following this movies progress to get in touch with where it all began. Often times I find the director’s in commentaries will exclaim that the final product we are viewing was not their intended work. Without a doubt this crew was able to deliver on a promise that started on this fundraiers page. This brings me to my next point, we need to deliver on our end. Whether you donated or not, this film is going to need you to support it soon. I’m sure the guys behind the lens have big plans for putting this in front of more than one festival panel. Get to the festivals. Watch the movie and make sure you let people know that this ain’t your momma’s zombie flick.  Read Massie’s short story too… you can order it HERE  Use your social media weaponry and spread the good word. If there be hype, I assure you it is legitimate.

-Dr. Terror

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