I’ve always been a fan of the zombie movies, especially since I first saw the original B&W “Night of the Living Dead” when I was a youngster. There was something frighteningly interesting about the walking dead even if they were starting to wage war on mankind. Zombies have come a long way since those days and today we normally get stories about a virus that infected the human race that makes the fast running zombies. To me zombies will always be the slow, lumbering in the darkness beings out for one thing, human flesh.
“Exit Humanity” takes a different approach to the zombie horror film and gives us a story about how zombies walking during The Civil War. We follow the journal of Civil War vet Edward Young, and his telling of how the rise of the zombie almost became the downfall of humanity. One thing that really struck me about this film is the pacing and how powerful of a story it actually is. This isn’t your full of action high intense zombie gore fest, this is more of a character study of a man and how far he goes until he feels like he has reached the end of his rope. A story of a man will to risk it all in the face of this horror to try and make some sense as to what is actually happening.
The pacing of this film is unlike other type of zombie movies. It is set up in chapters, each chapter representing a portion of Edward Young’s journal. For the first part of the movie there is little to no dialogue, except for the wonderful narration of the diary by the great Brian Cox. Cox is a favorite of mine and his voice is masterful to listen to as he tells the tale that Edward Young committed to paper. With the direction taken for this film, you really feel the pain this character has gone through. He has returned from a hunting trip after the war only to find his son gone and he wife has been turned into a walking corpse which he has to put down. He takes his horse and goes out looking for his son, only to come across more of these walking dead creatures. He spends a lot of the time writing in his journal and studying these creatures trying to make sense of them.
Edward eventually comes across his son, but his worst fear has come true, He too is an undead and must be brought down. He burns the body and is going to spread his sons ashes at a waterfall he always promised he would take his son to someday. During this time his horse gets bitten and soon has to be put down, not so much because of the fear of the horse turning into a zombie, but more of the fact that the injury is too severe for the horse to travel on. The ending scene with the horse is powerfully acted and directed and makes it a very emotional scene, something you really don’t get with zombie movies.
Edward, on the verge of suicide, ends up becoming friends with a man called Issac and agrees to help him look for his sister who has been taken by General Williams and his band of rebels. These guys fought along side Issac and Edward in the war but have their own agenda on how to deal with these zombies. Williams has the notion that there is someone out there that is immune to the infection caused by a zombie bite and is looking to make a cure.
Directed by John Geddes who’s last film was the movie “Scarce” has done a masterful job with “Exit Humanity”. His slow approach to film style and pacing really has made a powerful movie in a genre that is usually set aside for gore fest action. There are scenes of zombie killing and some gore but the real story here is that of Edward Young. I loved how Geddes incorporated animated sequences into the movie that showed passage scenes where Edward was traveling fro one place to another. They were well thought out and placed perfectly into the movie. Geddes definitely has a great eye when setting up scenes and executing them. His slow style of directing in this film really pulls out the emotion in scenes and draws you, the audience into the picture deeper. Your eyes will be glued to the screen wondering where this story is taking this Edward Young character.
Geddes also wrote the screenplay for the film as well. He has a knack for writing journal dialogue that actually sounds like writing from a journal. The writing is solid throughout the movie and never really stumbles. It makes for a well rounder production and I love how Geddes ties in the birth of the zombie, of how this epidemic started.
The cast across the board was strong. From Mark Gibson who played Edward to Dee Wallace who played Eve, the lady in the woods. Bill Moseley plays General Williams, and anyone who is familiar with Bill Moseley’s work will be glad to be seeing Bill doing classic Bill. Brian Cox is wonderful as the narrator of the journal. All actors did great in their parts and made up a very strong cast.
The make up effects for the zombies were very well done. Even though this movie had a budget of only 300,000 dollars the effects looked great. Nothing cheesy looking, just horrific monsters slowly coming out of the woods seeking out their next victim.
If you are a zombie lover this movie is for you, even if you are not a lover of zombie pictures check it out anyway. It is a really well made movie, a really well done character drama about a mans struggle not only with himself but with how the world is spiraling downhill. If there is only one fault I would say it would have to be near the end with the confrontation between Young and Williams. I thought that was a little poorly done and could have been executed better.
I give this movie 4.5 stars our of 5. One of the best zombie movies I have seen and is definitely going to be on my re-watch list. The style and substance of the movie come together perfectly to give us a take on zombies that I don’t think we have seen before. A definitely watch for all horror fans and movie fans in general. It’s not so much scary as it is emotional. In essence is it one man’s emotional journey down a dark path searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. Till next time my friends.