It’s been six years since the end of the Civil War, and zombies have managed to overrun the landscape. Had this been the actual turn of events, I believe more kids would surely enjoy digging into their history books, but as we all know this is not the case. But this is the “what-if” scenario that writer/director John Geddes portrays for us in his new Canadian horror film Exit Humanity.
We meet Edward (Mark Gibson) as he has returned home to find that his wife has been attacked by the undead and his son is missing. With no choice but to dispatch his zombie turned wife, he sets off into the countryside to find his son. In his search Edward confronts many zombies along the way, and with each confrontation he learns more about them. When the time comes and Edward does find his son, he is too late; his son is also among the walking dead. After killing his son, Edward is left as a broken shell of a man. His only drive is to take the remains of his son to Ellis Falls where he intends to bury his ashes and end his own life. Paired along with a narration given by Brian Cox, this is one of the stronger opening acts in the zombie genre in years. Unfortunately this doesn’t last.
Along his journey Edward enters a town that has recently met its end. Heads placed on stakes are what welcome Edward into the town as he hopes to find himself some supplies; instead he is confronted by a lone survivor Isaac (Adam Seybold) who wants to recruit Edward for a rescue mission to find his sister who has been kidnapped. Of course we know Edward is going to encounter people along his journey, but I had a problem with how easily he was convinced to help this stranger when we already know all Edward really wants is to die. But at least Geddes gives us a villain to flesh out this story, and he comes in the form of General Williams (Bill Mosley). Williams and his gang are a bad bunch that are said to be nothing more than raping, murdering thieves who are trying to find a cure to the zombie plague.
With the new villains added into the mix I’m willing to get my hopes up and see what direction this is all going to go, but unfortunately there is no buildup, nor is there a payoff. Our characters are able to break the sister out with little to no difficulty. One of our trio of escapees gets shot during the escape, but thankfully they discover an old witch, Eve (Dee Wallace) who is able to heal the person with little difficulty. That’s part of the problem that runs throughout the film; everything comes too easily and works out so well that we never feel a sense of peril for any of the characters.
What shines the most with this film is the use of cinematography and capturing the landscapes that surround our characters. Some of the shots are stunning and beautiful and seem out of place for an indie zombie film, but still the shots are more than welcome here. Mixed in we also have a handful of animation sequences that though they are jarring, at least they attempt to offer scope while portraying some of the more elaborate action pieces I’d imagine the filmmakers didn’t have in the budget to shoot. Overall from a technical standpoint this is a well-executed film from which many indie filmmakers could learn a thing or two about what a little creativeness can bring to your film when the money isn’t there.
The biggest thing I got from after watching this film was realizing that Geddes really is a horror filmmaker fans should keep an eye on. He has a great eye for picking good shots and how to get the most out of his budget while bringing a unique story to the screen. This film is by no means a stumbling block but merely a stepping stone to something great.