Sunday, January 19, 2014

DEAD WEIGHT (Horizon DVD) - A Post-Apocalypse of One

The term post-apocalypse has become synonymous with zombies. While zombies might in some way play a role in any number of post-apocalyptic scenarios, it is not the only option for the end of times. Perhaps global warming will trigger a global weather event or maybe, just maybe a virus will kill us all... or undead us all. Yep, we're back to zombies in less than two steps. Whoops. How did that happen? Well, Dead Weight focuses on the undead end of times via viral outbreak, but there is a novel twist or at least a unique angle from which to tell the tale. Horizon Movies has given us an Adam Bartlett/John Pata collaboration with which to how one man can make a difference in Dead Weight. These things always end up to be stories about human more than the undead or the viruses that create them anyway.

Synopsis from Horizon:

In the wake of an apocalyptic viral outbreak, the undead take over major cities. Charlie Russell (Joe Belknap) treks through the relative safe zone of the wilderness to reunite with his girlfriend, Samantha (Mary Lindberg). As Charlie's journey brings him closer to his destination of Wausau, WI, he must face physical exhaustion, malicious survivors, and perhaps most menacing, his growing thirst for violence.

My experience with Dead Weight has been somewhat double-sided. On one hand I feel like I'm forced into yet another tale of the little buggies that get in our bodies causing us all to undie (not like Night of the Creeps, like 28 Days Later). While Dead Weight is not a tale of zombies (like most good zombie tales) zombies are the vehicle by which the story moves and unfortunately the tale of humanities own ills being brought to light when humanity is at its most vulnerable is losing steam. Couldn't the vehicle have been magic beetles or some sort of cataclysmic tree fungus? If the undead are barely in the movie and they don't seem to drive 90% of the action then you can choose any reason for the apocalypse. Any trigger you like. That's a pet peeve, and normally from this point we would go on to talk about the action sequence overuse of CGI and how shitty the zombies looked.... except we don't have to because Dead Weight has a strong survival story with a distinct absence of computer generated hooey.

While the direct drive that sets all the events in motion in Dead Weight are contrived and obvious the characters are realistic, sympathetic and believable. Cut that with minimal action sequences i.e. zombie head shots x1000 and you've actually got some decent interactions. There's the obligatory hillbilly, backward ass-fuck rapists but conversely there's a strong female character that is able to deal with them nicely. Dead Weight is the story of personal interaction, growth in a time of where characters introvert and most of all... the tale of unchecked personal obsession. Narcissism. It's one man's attempt to find the one he loves at the cost to all others. It's not love. It's creepy, and that's what makes Dead Weight a strong film that has something more to offer an audience than a Flu-Zombie-Love-Dongle.

Perhaps I'm more critical of the viral aspect of Dead Weight because the characters in it are strong (not always the best performances but solid). With an unfamiliar drive you at least don't have me comparing it to 28 Days Later or any other viral horror pictures.

The disc itself comes with a Director's Commentary from Bartlett and Pata, an actor's commentary with Joke Belknap and Mary Lindberg as well as extended scenes, featurettes, outtakes and a trailer.

Note: 1.78:1, 16x9 English Stereo.

Tired of the zombie genre? This one actually has relatively few undead and that makes that aspect very tolerable while helping you to focus in on the good stuff (remember how The Battery didn't show the undead much and how good that was?). Most of all enjoy the performances. There's some strong ones here with some strange development, but perhaps Dead Weight is more honest then some of the more sensationalist P.A. flicks. It's not gushy romantic, and its climax is not predictable.

On a random related note, keep an eye out for my review of the book Hidden Horror which features several suggestions for overlooked or obscure horror features from the creators and/or cast of Dead Weight. Far out (and they make some interesting ones to boot).

You can order Dead Weight NOW! Available January 21st.

-Doc Terror


  1. Can't wait for your review of Hidden Horror!

    1. Finished it tonight. Letting it ferment in my brain.

  2. Thanks so much for the great write-up. Love everything you had to say, and we greatly appreciate your feedback!

    Hope you dug Hidden Horror, too!