Laden with British character actors and featuring a whip-smart story, ‘A Serial Killer’s Guide To Life’ (out January 13 on iTunes and Digital HD), takes the road movie formula and turns it into a dryly black comedy about finding one’s true self.
Dustin Mills' Zombie A-Hole was made for $1000, yet manages to demonstrate that, with a camera, some friends, and a decent enough script, you make make a movie as enjoyable as most studio releases. Is it Oscar-caliber? No. This is a b-movie, through and through, right down to the faux-graininess of the movie and the Southern rock soundtrack by some anonymous band. The whole of Zombie A-Hole feels like it was plucked straight from the vaults of Crown International, and is a nice nod to '70s exploitation flicks. Granted, the downside is that the movie, while entertaining, is also pretty terrible. Mills does an admirable job getting competent performances from his actors, but there's no one here that rises above perfunctory.
Thankfully, when your movie starts with a murderer chasing naked girls through the woods, it certainly helps distract the viewer from the acting. While not out-and-out terrible, it's pretty wooden -- although, if anything, the voice-over narration is worse than the acting. It's the usual expository banality, rendered even worse by a sight-reading level of delivery that made my skin crawl. When it finally disappeared completely, I breathed a sigh of relief.
The movie's ostensibly about a zombie killer trying to find some sort of power, and it involves killing twins. There are a lot of twins in this movie. I don't know if it's a clever plot device or just a way of stretching your acting budget by having each performer play two roles. Twins are certainly effective in keeping your actresses nude for double the amount of time. Although, for as much nudity as Zombie A-Hole packs into its running time, it's more a case of quantity over quality. I think I saw a c-section scar.
The special effects are what set Zombie A-Hole apart. Thanks to ever-more-powerful home computers, effects in your standard indie horror flick are better than some straight-to-video or SyFy original movies. The downside is that it's impressive through trickery. Watch long enough, and you realize all the effects are in their own shots. Rarely does a shot contain both live action and effects. When it does, the results are a little less impressive. How so? Three words: acidic Silly String.
The action scenes are a little Zach Snyder-y, but nicely done, overall, as are the flashbacks done with animation. I really hoped that would be the way they rendered all the back story, but it's only used in one scene -- unfortunate, as it really helped break up a rather monochromatic, sepia-toned picture.
Zombie A-Hole really starts to drag in the last half hour or so. They could've trimmed a lot of the cross-cut twin killings, removing about 30 seconds of lingering shots per scene, and cut the movie by a good ten minutes. Thankfully, the movie actually builds to a final confrontation worth waiting for. No lame cop out -- there's a satisfying conclusion.
Mills has crafted a movie that -- for all its flaws -- really manages to entertain. I rooted for the protagonists, and managed to remain involved for the film's duration. While it drags in quite a few places, Mills knows when to break the boredom by busting skulls or flashing breasts. Perhaps not a purchase-worthy film, but definitely worth a rental.
This review originally ran on Scene-Stealers.