Dead Season
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Dead Season

For many years now film goers have been dreading an assault by zombie. Film goers have been dreading the rotting corpses of the recently dead rising up to stalk and feast upon the flesh and brains of the living. Not that long ago zombies did in fact begin to take over. This swarming menace is not present in the actual sense, the zombie hordes are at this very moment zombies at attacking our movie theaters and television channels throughout the world. Although this invasion is not occurring in the world but the impact is significant and as far as the portion of the entertainment industry zombies were originally utilized an occult menace typically fro exotic island nations in the Caribbean by horror film directors to achieve an unstoppable, mindless killing machine. In 1968 under the innovative guidance of a young filmmaker, George Romero, the zombie was reinvented into a vehicle for social commentary and a staple of budding masters of horror throughput the independent film world. A with any human endeavor the use of zombies ranges over a wide spectrum. At the shallow end are young filmmakers who can exploit the cheap and easy application of reasonably effective makeup. It is so simple that zombie bar crawls have appeared in many cities where groups deck themselves out in the finest undead couture and proceed to bar hop across town in costume. On the other side are the film that trace their lineage to the Romero franchise that uses the lumbering formerly human creatures in allegorical terms were the undead come to represent social concerns ranging from prejudice to rampant over consumerism. Somewhere in the middle of this bell curve lays movies similar in construction and inclination to the one under consideration here, ‘Dead Season’ are an attempt to set an otherwise familiar story against the back drop of a zombie infestation.

In a case as represented by this movie a standard trope is retooled through the use of the undead creatures as an immediately understandable threat. The filmmaker need not expend too much footage in exposition; just a brief scene explaining how a viral outbreak has set the zombie multitude has been set loose upon our kind. The specific scenario serving as the foundation of this film is fairly representative of the plot device. The precise details of the etiology of the zombie infection are inconsequential more inline width the classic Macguffin. Although what occurred is naturally important to the characters within the context of the story but from the vantage point of the audience the cause can be regarded as de facto and just accepted without further questioning. The traditional storyline used here is pair of characters on a road trip. The destination in this case is the safe haven reportedly located on a far away island. This is an accepted variation of the quest story. Other notable example is the post nuclear Apocalypse navigated by two soldiers on ‘Damnation Alley’ which is a variation of the same themes employed here. Just search for radiation and replace with zombie. Of course the required changes are more complicated than that facetious but it does demonstrate the ubiquitous nature of the men on a quest story line. By altering the foundation of the premise filmmaker Adam Deyoe has managed to breathe a little life in to this hackney genre, no pun intended. Through the alteration of character motivation in this fashion Deypoe has change the driving force of the story. Normally the humans in zombie flicks are just running from the staggering source of peril. Here the difference is in some ways subtle but it is just what is needed. Her two people here, Elvis (Scott Peat) and fellow survivor Tweeter (Marissa Merrill) are on a journey towards a specific goal, an island off the coast of Florida that is reportedly free of zombies. The usual moral dilemma comes up such as the disposition of those fortunately infected to how to cope with a boy who attaches himself to the travelers. By switching the travel from danger to a specific location the film can ascend about the routine flight or fight reaction to a journey of hope, a promise of some semblance of a return to normalcy. On a greater scale the script provided by new comers Joshua Klausner and Loren Semmens shifts the film from a video game like dispatching of one zombie after another to the basis for an insightful character study of two reasonable men facing a world devoid of reason.

Here the journey is but the start of the story’s heart. One the pair make it to the island they discover the expected rag tag group of survivor lead by the militarily inclined, Kurt Conard (James C. Burns). The story takes a surprising change in the expected direction when Tweeter and another young woman in the compound, Corsica Wilson (Rachel Conrad), plot to escape. They need flee the draconian rile of Conard’s administration. Just for another telegraphed plot device Corsica is the leader’s daughter. Adam Deyoe’s direction exhibits a bold streak. He is not shy of switching up the pre determined roles to vary the personalities of the characters. An example is the stern leader/ I one dimensional portrayal would go down that overly trod path but here the people are represented as fully developed personalities instead of the customary caricatures populating the common zombie flick.

This film has heart and not just the bloody organ being ripped out of a victim’s chest cavity. There is an unexpected emotional layer to the film that leads me curious as to how these artisans will develop their talents. It isn’t often that a zombie movie eschews political message or overt gross effects in favor of relating a story of human beings under stress from an emotional stand point. The film stumbles a few times as expected by people at the start of their careers. What is obvious is the potential the writers and director display as storytellers.

Posted 07/23/12

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