My mate Paul, who I do them Mellow Gaming videos with, is always complaining that I don’t review the films he suggests. This is probably because he only suggests films to torture me with. It was my birthday last week and Paul got me a selection of films, two of which fit into this torture category. The first of these films is today’s subject Osombie. Click the link below for my review. Where to start with Osombie? Maybe if I do a back story to the film thing I’ll know where to leap in. So, Osombie was a film that had it’s post production work funded by Kickstarter. In other words, their producer spent all the budget on getting the film shot and forgot that someone had to actually cut and score the film for release. Fair enough I suppose. Kickstarter has kind of become a marketing arm for production companies recently anyway. Get the film made, make a Kickstarter with a low target, get attention for the dumb plot idea, marketing completed and you got paid for it. Win win I guess. So, what did all that post production money get them? Lots and lots of digital blood it seems. The story is stupid and barely coherent. Essentially, when Bin Laden was killed he had just injected himself with some chemical weapon stuff that turns men into zombies. This resurrected him as the living dead and his body was dropped into the ocean. He heads to shore and starts a zombie outbreak. There’s a woman named Dusty (Eve Mauro) who is searching for her conspiracy theorist nut brother Derek (Jenson Wade) who believes Bin Laden is still alive because the internet told him so. Also there’s a military group made up of “characters” who are very aware of the zombie outbreak, which appears to have been going on for a while… although it’s oddly confined to the desert. Naturally, because the Afghanistan desert is small and flat, the military unit bump into Dusty just in time to save her from a horde of zombies. They then go somewhere and she’s keeping an eye out for her brother and eventually the titular Osombie turns up and an acts largely like a regular zombie.
I think typing the word “sigh” would not accurately convey the amount of exhalation I’m having to do here. I still am not sure where to start. Let’s go with the story and characters. That’s usually a good place. So the progression of the early part of the film is as follows. Navy Seals kill Bin Laden and maybe set loose some zombies, we aren’t sure. One is bitten and they all die in a helicopter crash when transporting Bin Laden’s zombie body back. Bin Laden attacks two Americans on a beach. Why two Americans were hanging out on a beach in the Middle East is anyone’s guess. How Bin Laden stumbled back to a land locked country from the beach is another thing to guess. We then meet the military group, one of their team gets bit and everyone struggles to decide who should kill him before he’s turned. Then we meet Dusty and her tour guide, who promptly gets bit and…. do you see how this is just kinda throwing scene after scene out there? We don’t know who the military team are, none of which were present for the film’s opening scenes. They display the idea of characters but only in the sense that someone writing the film picked a number of traits and called it a day. One of the team, for example, tells jokes. His name is Joker (Paul D Hunt) and he tells jokes. There’s also Tomboy (Danielle Chuchran – Thing 1 from The Cat In The Hat) who is the girl one in the group and has a sword for some reason. All these characters share one trait, a desire to tell back stories and spout the exposition that could have been handled in actual scenes. It’s about 15 minutes into the film before we meet Dusty and she’s meant to be the main character. Her story is meant to be the human one we relate to and follow. Her brother is a colossal prat and it really isn’t long before you’d rather she never finds him.
This all creates a series of problems. No scenes connect to the other. Characters are spouting exposition before we know who they are or what they’re doing. You can’t have the characters running way ahead of the audience. This leads the audience to lose interest in what is happening as they feel a disconnect as they attempt to catch up. I’m still not sure why the military team were even in the middle of the desert. There was mention of a signal of some kind. They knew about the zombies. There was no scene where we meet them and they’re debriefed and sent in. There’s a reason debriefing scenes almost always happen in films involving the military or police. It is a chance for the characters to learn what is happening at the same time as us. Dusty has nothing to do with the goals of the military group but they soon decide to help her find her trouble causing brother even though it would compromise whatever mission they had. I get the impression they don’t know what their mission was either and so they just decided to let her tag along and hope everything will turn out OK. Here’s what should have happened. Bin Laden bites the people on the beach, this starts the outbreak. Dusty’s brother should have had some sort of tie to the outbreak, maybe he worked on the virus that has caused this and potentially would know how to stop it. The team are debriefed and told to head in to find him. Dusty tries to get brought along but isn’t allowed. The team head to Afghanistan to find Derek without realising that Dusty has taken matters into her own hands to go find him. Whilst there the team discover Dusty has made her own way there and they must work together to find Derek and stop the zombie threat. None of that happens at all. All the characters are just there and doing things and stuff happens.
Zombie attacks are used as punctuation to sentences. Almost every single time a character uses or ends a sentence zombies turn up. They get shot a bit and the conversations continue. I have no idea how the zombies keep sneaking up on this crack military unit in a mostly open desert. Must be ninja terrorist zombies. I’m pretty certain that 90% of the attacks in this film are caused by characters randomly telling their life stories. Subjects for life stories include, pet dogs, Pokemon and Walmart. Walmart is used as a joke twice in the first 30-ish minutes of the film. No idea why. Maybe this is the director’s way of making the pop culture references for the types of people that think that a dumb concept is enough for a film to hang on. They’re not even actual pop culture references. They’re just mentioning things to give the illusion of character. Here’s another key character trait, apparent lead army guy and Dusty’s romance interest due to reasons has the character trait of taking his shirt off. That’s his “thing”. I suppose it informs of a reckless attitude to the danger of the zombie threat… maybe? Every single effect in this film, with the exception of zombie make-up, is digital. Limbs are sliced off by Tomboy in that digital way you’ve seen on Youtube videos. Blood is that cut and paste splatter effect you’ll see in all the action films these days. Even gun muzzle flash is digital. In the scene where Bin Laden wakes up in a helicopter there is a dust filter effect placed on the screen. The exact same filter is used in every shot during this sequence. The shots from the inside, the pilots eye view (we never see the pilot so you could also assume the helicopter didn’t have one), the exterior shots… they all have the exact same dust filter effect. How do you edit you film and just drag that effect over about 3 minutes of cuts and leave it there? Why even add it? Were they trying to make the scene featuring the zombie and the CGI helicopter crash look like a documentary where the camera man had no chance to clean the lens between all the warping around the helicopter to get all these shots? In another scene an AC-130 flies in and shoots a load of zombies from the sky like that bit in Call of Duty. This is shot from the outside of the plane but as if it is through the internal thermal vision camera. Again, I am unsure if the word “sigh” is enough. The whole film is made with this sort of basic, likely pre-canned, effects work. If you have a low budget film don’t make it look cheaper by chucking way too many cheap looking effects over it. If your effects work is going to look cheap use it sparingly and concentrate on making scenes that don’t require effects work better.
This is one of those films where they decided that their means were finite and so why even try. Put that premise out there, hope people laugh at it and then spend the film with a load of unsatisfying nonsense. The Osombie of the title doesn’t even reappear until the last 5 minutes. He’s not some super zombie and a constant threat. Derek thinks he’s still alive but here’s no mystery because we know he’s a zombie now. There is no point to the Osombie himself. They could have cut that out and just called the film something like Desert of the Undead and it would make little difference. But that would have lost them their hook and they wouldn’t want that because these sorts of low budget films, such as those made by The Asylum, rely entirely on a hook to sell DVDs and give you bullshite in return. Osombie is a mess. A shoddily written collection of the same few scenes replayed over and over until something resembling a climax happens. It really is the writing that drags this film down the hole too. If it had been coherent. If the story had made a lick of sense. If anything was successfully conveyed… we would have, at the very least, a silly little story to enjoy along the way. Good established writers don’t come cheap but a cheap writer can still be good. There’s no price of entry on basic story comprehension. So thanks for the birthday present Paul. I guess I’ll have to watch Survival of the Dead at some point too. That’s the other film he got to punish me for something. He also got me GI Joe Retaliation though, which I love, and that maniac remake with Elijah Wood which I’ve heard is excellent. I’ll get to Maniac next week I imagine. Off to Italy over the weekend so there will be no reviews for a few days. I may try to get Survival of the Dead done before I go though.