BR: Exit Humanity (2011)

November 8, 2012 | By

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Film: Weak/ BR Transfer: Very Good/ BR Extras: Good

Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada/ Region: 1 (NTSC) / Released: June 19, 2012

Genre: Horror / Zombies

Synopsis: A Civil War vet searches for sanctuary when the countryside is sodden with zombies.

Special Features:  Audio Commentary #1: director John Geddes and actors Adam Seybold and Mark Gibson / Audio Commentary #2: director John Geddes and producers Jesse T. Cook and Matt Wiele / Making-of featurette (10:12)

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Review:

John Geddes’ concept of a zombie outbreak during the American Civil War is genuinely provocative – certainly in its conjecture as to how an agrarian locale would defend itself against such a primal, unstoppable force – but in spite of the superb period detail and great atmosphere, Exit Humanity is victimized by Geddes’ decision to labour almost interminably on the ongoing personal suffering of hero Edward Young (Mark Gibson).

Young’s dilemma is severe – he shot both his wife and son, two horrible soul-scarring events – but within the zombie genre such tragedy isn’t novel, which is why spending nearly 20 minutes on Young going through montages of drunkenness, hallucinations, heavier boozing, and temper tantrums is more than labored. Although heavy drinking during and after the Civil War is factual, the prolonged montages ultimately render Young’s suffering into near bathos, adding little depth to a generally uninteresting central character.

Young’s travails through the woods and itinerant rest stops also don’t bring him into contact with charismatic or unique characters, although the only exception is local ‘witch’ Eve (Dee Wallace), a hermit woman whose prior life being expelled from town is shown in a compelling and detailed flashback.

The story eventually tightens and brings Young into contact with General Williams (Bill Moseley), a corrupt leader known for rounding up passersby and offering them to his medic (underused Stephen McHattie) for crude bio experiments that (ideally) will find a cure and weapon, but the film has a meandering style, and the zombie appearances are too few and generic in spite of some effectively wet gore.

There’s also the strange conceit that Young is frequently able to sleep or rest without any midnight zombie attack; he even manages to enjoy a contemplative session by a large fire that none of the wandering zombie troupes manage to see.

Geddes’ use of animated sequences to frame the film’s diary chapters (read by an older Edward Young, played by Brian Cox) are effective and give the film a comic book feel (if not keep the budget tight), and Brendan Uegama’s Red cinematography is gorgeous, maximizing the beauty of the Beaver Creek, Ontario location. Equally vital are the costumes and grubby sets, which evoke a dingy, remote valley where lurking, zombified inhabitants could leap out from anywhere. (One crafty zombie in fact bursts out from a river as Young is poised to bathe – a discrete homage, if intended, to the ‘swimming dead’ creature in Lucio Fulci’s Zombi that bites a shark.)

Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray sports a decent transfer of the film with slight compression visible during fadeouts. The extras include dual commentary tracks, and a detailed making-of featurette that covers the ambitious production and its rustic location, plus a nod to the evocative score by composers Jeff Graville, Nate Kreiswirth and Ben Nudds.

Geddes has frequently collaborated as writer, director, producer, and actor on several Anchor Bay releases including Monster Brawl (2011) and Scarce (2008).

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© 2012 Mark R. Hasan

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External References:

IMDB Official Website

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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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