Director – Wesley Spangler
Starring – Wesley Spangler (Brazen Impact, Christmas in Tune), Sharah Trigger (Heavy Duty Man), and Russell Sage Patrick (Bullet Proof Cowboys, Talons of the Phoenix)
Release Date – 2022
Rating – 2.5/5
Tom Savini’s remake of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was what started me down the road to horror. My first love was zombie flicks and Savini’s NotLD which opened the door to Romero’s original Dead trilogy. A few years later I found my love for zombies taking me down the indie route where I found films like Dead and Breakfast, Meat Market, Planet Zombies, Hide and Creep, and so on. When I reached high school, I was snagging no budget zombie movies from companies like Brain Damage Films and I couldn’t get enough of them.
I even enjoyed watching the bad ones and thinking about how I could improve them. Sadly, my love for the undead fizzled out after the first season of The Walking Dead and the hundreds and thousands of TWD clones that flooded store shelves. That was ten or so years ago and I think we have just now got back to zombie films coming into their own again and not trying to recapture that gritty “mankind is the real monster” zombie flicks. A few days ago, a friend of mine sent a link to a film he worked on titled Z-ero. It looked interesting enough, so I decided to check it out and review. I want to thank Matt for sending this one over!
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a man living in a town plagued with the undead. While the zombies are dangerous, they don’t seem to be a major issue unless you are slow, or they gather in numbers. However, things go from bad to worse when an alpha zombie emerges with the ability to think, reason, and command the other lesser zombies. That’s when he finds himself on the business end of a zombie bite. He finds himself not changing and soon uncovers that he has super strength and speed, but his body is decaying at a much slower rate than a normal zombie. He tries to use his new-found powers for good but a secret government agency has another idea for him and the alpha zombie. **Spoiler Alert**
I didn’t know anything about Z-ero aside from the fact that the director was new to the game. I’m always honest in my reviews and I’ll be completely transparent here. Z-ero has a lot of issues with most of them due to their inexperience. We have problems with the editing, the scene transitions, the story telling, and awkward performances at times. However, the no budget charm and story reminded me a lot of films like Meat Market and The Dead Next Door. These films are rough around the edges but have become cult favorites among no budget cinema fans. It had some moments that I did enjoy but I can see other genre fans ripping it apart just for the sake of being assholes.
The acting in this one is what you would expect from a no budget film from a first-time filmmaker. The cast is fully invested in their performances, but the lack of inexperience does show in almost every scene. I liked the characters, the energy they bring, but their emotional range was not there. I’ve seen more emotions in an elementary school play.
The story for this one really appealed to me. The dude getting bit and trying to save other people from suffering the same fate as he is pretty interesting. When you mix it with the government agency and the no budget, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a film inspired by The Dead Next Door and Meat Market. The film does struggle to find its own footing. We get too many drawn out scenes with pointless dialogue and the crude editing from scene to scene does take away from the overall story.
Finally, the film uses some solid make-up effects along with some noticeable visual effects. The make up effects look exactly like what I would expect from a film like this and I love it. However, I could have lived without the green screen scenes and the CGI. Overall, Z-ero is a very ambitious film for a first time filmmaker and I respect the hell out of it. With that being said, this film is rough in so many different ways. It’s fun to watch with some friends and some booze but it will be a tough one to watch alone late at night.