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Book based horror is an interesting and intriguing addition to the overcrowded zombie sub-genre. In this tale, a fungus has turned most of the world’s population into crazed carnivores seeking human and/or other living flesh for food. A small group of soldiers and scientists are trying to seek a cure through a group of infected children whose aggressive behavior is surpressed and only becomes volatile when they are hungry and in the proximity of prey, or the scent of the living. One such little girl, Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is the most intelligent and controlled of the subjects…and thus of the most interest to lead scientist, Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close). When the “Hungries” overrun the base, a small group of survivors, including sympathetic teacher Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton) and Caldwell, take Melanie on the run to find a safe haven, as the young girl may be mankind’s last hope. Along the way they find armies of Hungries and groups of feral children like the ones back at the base. Melanie now has a choice, to help save humanity or find a home amongst her own “kind”.

British flick is a mix of Day Of The Dead and Lord Of The Flies and thus keeps us interested with it’s focus on the “second generation” children of a zombie outbreak. The film is very effectively directed by Colm McCarthy from a script by Mike Carey, based on his book of the same name. Girl creates a very sympathetic and likable character in Melanie and this has us quite endeared to her despite the fact that there is a monster lurking beneath the skin. McCarthy also gives some intensity and chills to some of the more familiar sequences, even though fans of the genre have seen hordes of hungry zombies in action before. The fact that we have some likable characters in the mix like Miss Justineau, helps involve us with scenes like the Hungries overrunning the base and when the characters are in danger. The film has some clever ideas, such as the interesting slant of Melanie basically being able to walk amongst the Hungries unscathed, as she technically is one of them and thus goes from basically a prisoner to valued member of the team. Once the film switches gears from George A. Romero to William Golding, it becomes quite interesting as Melanie starts to wonder whether this is infection or evolution and realizes that the team needs her more than she needs them. There are also some very familiar clichés such as the self-serving scientist and the soldier with a grudge (Paddy Considine) along with many familiar zombie tropes. There are, obviously, some gruesome moments and some brutality, though McCarthy makes them effective by not overdoing it with the well-rendered blood-spattering. When it comes, it’s startling. There is also a really good score by Cristobal Tapia de Veer that adds atmosphere and the film is shot well by Simon Dennis, especially effective when the film changes settings to a London abandoned and overgrown with vegetation.

Another element that makes this work so well, is the cast. Young Sennia Nanua gives a simply amazing performance as Melanie. We see a girl who is intelligent, thoughtful and compassionate to the point of total compliance with being a test subject. We watch her slowly begin to realize just how important she is and then assume a position of dominance as she comes to the realization that she may be at the top of the food chain, as both predator and leader. In all aspects of her character, Nanua is captivating and in the last act she exudes a strength that grabs you. Her relationship with Arterton’s Miss Justineau is also crucial, as she is the anchor to which Melanie’s humanity is tethered. The two actors have a genuine chemistry that makes the friendship work and the affection seem genuine. Gemma Arterton once again proves she is more than a pretty face with a strong turn as the caring teacher who sees her students as more than monsters…even to a fault. Veteran Glenn Close is also strong as scientist Dr. Caldwell. Sure the character is cliché, but the veteran actress gives her some depth, even when she becomes the cold, ruthless, scientist we expect from the role. Rounding out is Paddy Considine who is also good as the soldier with a hatred for the Hungies and who treats the children like the monsters he feels they are. The character has a bit of depth, especially when we find the root of his anger. Cliché but effective thanks to a solid actor in the part.

Overall, I really liked this flick despite feeling the zombie sub-genre needs a much needed break. The film has some familiar elements, but also does it’s own thing with a fascinating lead character in Melanie and an interesting Lord Of The Flies slant in it’s second half. We have a solid script from Carey and some very effective direction from Colm McCarthy. The cast are all very good, with young lead Sennia Nanua really making an impression with a layered and sometimes powerful performance of a unique little girl in an unthinkable situation. Not a completely original zombie flick, but one that has enough of it’s own ideas to make it effective and refreshing enough in an overcrowded sub-genre.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 girls with all the gifts.






Lisa Eldridge directs fan-boy favorite, the gorgeous Gemma Arterton as legendary beauty, Betty Page… another fan-boy icon… for LOVE magazine. And the results are just… WOW!


Souce: vimeo/ Lisa Eldridge/ LOVE magazine






Hansel and Gretel: WItch Hunters is released on blu-ray and DVD today so, I thought I’d post my review of this comedy/horror!

When you go to see a movie called Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters, obviously you don’t go in expecting Shakespeare but, I did expect it to have a bit more of the giddy fun that Tommy Wirkola brought to his gory zombie blast, Dead Snow. And while I was amused and entertained by H&G, it actually took itself a little too seriously for a film about fairy tale characters grown up to be vengeful witch hunters. With an outlandish story like this, I can appreciate giving the material some respect and not making a joke out of it but, to really make it work you have to give it a bit more over the top like Wirkola did so well with Dead Snow. H&G has action that is bloody and fast moving but, the film needed a bit more of a sense of humor then a few curse laden quips and breaking the same person’s nose, twice. This story of the fairy tale siblings coming up against a very powerful witch (Famke Janssen) with a devious plot to free her kind from the dangers of fire resembles the far more ridiculous Van Helsing to a degree but, could have used a bit of that flick’s over the top energy, just not as out of control (though that does make VH a ‘so bad it’s good’ treat). The film is well done and uses a lot more practical effects then expected and the minimal use of CGI was very refreshing. The cast handles their parts very well with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton having a good time as the badass witch killers and they played their roles with a serious approach but, not without a quick wink every now and then to let you know they are having a good time. Famke Janssen plays her part as the formidable witch with some over the top relish and that made a nice contrast to her stoic adversaries. Rounding out the cast Peter Stormare isn’t given much to do as the town sheriff who is not happy that H&G have come to do his job but, he is more lively here then in The Last Stand. The film looks great. The sets and costumes are really nicely designed as are the various witches and their Troll, Edward (Derek Mears). The cinematography is lush and the locations beautiful. Visually this is a really cool flick. But, as said, Wirkola gives us a fast pace and some nice gory action scenes to entertain us but, he just needed to inject a little more fun in the proceedings to make this a real standout treat. Overall I did enjoy it but, it could have been so much more of a blast if Wirkola wasn’t trying a bit too hard to not turn the material into a joke. There is a fine line to making a movie like this and Dead Snow proves he can walk it just fine. So why didn’t he? An amusing and entertaining enough viewing but, kinda forgettable when all is said and done.

3 bitchy witches  as the lush visuals and design, plus Gemma Arterton’s fine butt in leather, earn it a few extra points.

witch rating