If one were to throw a blanket statement and expect minimal backlash, it would be that if you’ve seen one zombie film, you’ve pretty much seen all of them. But because blanket statements are terrible no matter how you spin it, there are enough undead flicks out there that truly stand out among the sea of mediocrity and near-dead storytelling plaguing the genre.
Losing your cognitive functions and becoming a brain-dead coyote is a pretty terrifying concept. And because we care about the quality of your spent time, we highly recommend these fresh (sort of) flicks.
An apartment building is suddenly cordoned and quarantined from its surroundings. Nobody knows what’s going on, and most generally choose not to. But for a brave (read: dumb) reporter, her cameraman, a concerned father, a couple of firemen and a few other folk, it’s somewhere they have to be. Too bad for them, given how the building is infested with a zombie “plague,” and the dead folk can actually run pretty fast in this one.
Found footage films, shaky-cam aside, can add a wonderful layer of realism and tension to a seemingly stale script or plot. And although the plot of [REC] isn’t exactly original save for a couple aspects of its plot (spoiler territory), the sense of dread and palpable stress it imparts on audiences is one for the history books. You’ve likely seen the American remake of it – Quarantine – and it’s an OK adaptation at best. But the grittier camera work and Spanish cast and mysticism that [REC] sports is miles ahead of most in its genre.
TIP: [REC] has two sequels. Maybe watch the second one. Stay far away from the third.
The Girl with All the Gifts
Why are a bunch of kids kept locked up in some internment camp? Why are they taken to a special school instead of anywhere else? Why are there soldiers and why do they treat these kids like wild animals? A lot of questions are asked in this film, and they steadily receive answers in an expertly-crafted plot. Apparently, some fungal infection has ravaged the earth, and it’s turning people into mindless, flesh-eating “hungries.” But not all those infected are mindless it seems.
What’s great about The Girl with All the Gifts is that it takes the zombie formula and shakes it up in the most reversed of ways. Why do humans fight the natural order of things? They’re outnumbered now; it only makes sense to join the fold. The fungus in question, to add fuel to a freaky fire, is inspired by a real-life mind-controlling fungus that affects insects and arachnids. So it’s kind of terrifying to wonder what would happen if it decided to make that evolutionary leap towards humanity. Hungries who stay dormant for too long eventually become rooted and immobile; they become a breeding ground for more spores. The whole thing is genuinely unnerving, especially with how the adorable main character – young Melanie – goes from cute to oh my god stay away from me.
Not much is know about the virus that fucked Australia over regarding its whereabouts or how it works. All we know is that it A) Somehow managed to make Australia an even more dangerous place, B) It takes over your body in 48 hours, and C) It makes you cry over Martin Freemans character as he tries to fight it long enough to get his daughter Rose to safety.
What’s great about Cargo is that the zombies – “virals” in this case – are more of a backdrop than a focus. Granted, the disease itself is the driving engine of the entire film, seeing as it pushes our protagonist to try and survive literal zombification in order not to eat his own daughter. But much like The Road – the world’s arguably most depressing post-apocalypse film – the movie focuses on the human aspect of defeat, and trying to extract anything positive from it. It doesn’t help at all that the Australian government’s solution is to hand out these “containment kits” with a timer, handcuffs, and an “assisted suicide” device in case you want to do those around you a favour and end yourself before it’s too late. Extremely morbid, definitely recommended (the film, not suicide).
Another unexplained zombie apocalypse ensues, people die, they get back up, and the world goes to shit. Folks barricade themselves to keep the nasties at bay, but apparently, not all of the undead are particularly nasty. Even in a zombie’s world, there appears to be a hierarchy, and unlike most (if not all) zombie flicks out there, these ones actually have a somewhat-living conscience. They can be aware of what they’re doing, and they can gain memories by eating brains. Yeah.
As opposed to all of the films on this list, this is a zombie romantic comedy flick. A niche genre to say the very least. Although the same sense of dread and unease exists throughout most of the film, especially when the skinnier zombies start showing up, it’s an adorably palatable love story full that genuinely takes you for a loop as you watch more and more of it. Granted, it deviates far, far from even the wildest concepts of a zombie plague, but then again, zombies aren’t exactly real. This is a film you watch with your loved one, provided they’re OK with some gore and questionable life lessons. A charming, gruesome, and ultimately lovable cult classic.
Dead Alive (Braindead)
You know Peter Jackson? The guy that brought the Lord of The Rings films to cinema life? The Hobbit? King Kong? Yeah well, he had a phase where he made a legendary zombie gore flick that is basically about a man and his (zombified) mommy issues. Lionel loves his mom, but his mom is a pure, unadulterated bitch. Some wacky business involving a weird rat happens, and then she turns into a zombie. There is necrophilia involved, and a very powerful lawnmower. That is all I am willing to say.
The way to make a film that is part of a brutally stale genre fresh is to go far, far outside the box. The events of the film, the acting, the undertones, it’s all very unorthodox. And to add to that, all the visual effects are practical; nothing is digital here. The gore, the cooky scenes, the way the zombies look and function, it’s all wonderfully (and horrifically) charming. Dead Alive is one of those films every Egyptian should watch, especially the ones with overbearing mothers.