Horror filmmakers continue to consistently crank out zombie films at a rather rapid pace. These movies usually find at least a core audience that will give them a try but many viewers are burnt out on the subgenre. For every decent offering that comes along, there are several others that fall short. Re-Kill falls between those two camps, offering material that seasoned viewers have seen before but presenting it in a well-acted package that merits at least one watch.
Director Valeri Milev’s Re-Kill languished in post-production limbo since its original announced release date of 2011. It was finally released last year as one of After Dark Film’s Eight Films to Die For offerings. During that time, the film lost much of its originality, if not some of its edge, though it still has some reasons for recommendation.
Re-Kill is presented as a television broadcast on The Outbreak News Channel. Five years earlier, a virus outbreak led to a zombie infestation that wiped out 4.5 billion people globally. This series is much like the actual television show Cops, following R-Division soldiers as they travel around and wipe out remaining Re-Ans – the film’s code name for zombies – to prevent a second outbreak. The channel also airs commercials such as The Coalition to Repopulate America’s public service announcements urging people to have sex and Vivodine’s marketing of a preventative medicine advertised as the last line of defense against Re-An attacks.
Judging by the seemingly high turnover rate of reporters – the TV show must lose on-camera talent like Spinal Tap loses drummers – this should be a gig to which no one truly aspires, but field reporter Jimmy Mitchell is game when his number is called. Mitchell’s character is shown onscreen only briefly but his voice is a major part of Re-Kill. Unfortunately Aaron Jay Rome’s voice work sounds like an actor reading lines, not like an authentic reporter in the heat of battle. Several scenes are hampered by Mitchell telegraphing an attack by saying that he doesn’t have a good feeling about the situation; stating the obvious, like “God, we’re trapped!”; or suggesting that they should all leave the area they are investigating. The character is an annoyance to some of the R-Division members and he came across that way to me, as well.
The TV episode follows R-Division 8. Its members include Sarge (Roger R. Cross), who lost his wife and son to zombie attacks; Alex Winston (Bruce Payne), an internet evangelist who believes the Lord will save the chosen few for the mysterious Ark; Trent Parker (Scott Adkins), a macho ex-military member with a short fuse; Rose Matthews (Daniela Alonso), the only female member of R-Division 8; and rookie Tom Falkirk (Layke Anderson), who is understandably nervous about his first night on the job. Although there are some heartfelt moments from Sarge and Falkirk, the cast of characters rarely rise above cliches in Michael Hurst’s screenplay, and there is even a scientist (Langford, played by Rocky Marshall) who knows secrets but acts like a crazy conspiracy theorist. Despite their characters’ limitations, the cast does a very nice job with the material they are given and acting is the strongest point of Re-Kill.
Often the film feels like it is basically a step removed from playing a first-person-shooter zombie video game. A good portion of the film is R-Division members shooting at nondescript Re-Ans. Shot in cinema verite/live news broadcast style, shaky camerawork abounds. The protagonists run up and down stairs, through hallways, and on streets. Though at times Re-Kill works hard to justify what cameras are shooting the proceedings, the film eventually totally gives up on its rules, including showing action from multiple viewpoints when it has been established that there is only one camera on the scene, sometimes for the sake of getting a “cool” shot like people going through a window.
The shakycam style is further hindered by the film’s editing, which is often too fast-paced to let viewers focus on the mayhem. There is a bit of a gray area between the live news-style presentation and a found-footage conceit, which is somewhat confusing and distracting for a while. The editing of the television presentation is a tad convenient at times, with telling quotes from members killed in action appearing on screen immediately or very soon after their deaths. Then we are reminded by the characters that what we are watching is not being shown live but is waiting to be uploaded to the network – so who is editing the onscreen graphics, interviews, and commercials in if the uploading hasn’t yet taken place? If the events have already occurred and the footage has been edited for broadcast, why are the events presented as live at the beginning?
The commercials offer a bit of satire and the film tries for some occasional social commentary, but the ads get irksome after a while, especially because they interrupt the flow of the film, and attempts at messages are lost among the firepower and gore. Speaking of gore, the zombie carnage effects are handled well, so fans of reanimated creatures munching down on human prey have a great deal to be pleased about.
Re-Kill doesn’t offer much in the way of originality, but horror fans in the mood for a heavy-weaponry-filled take on a zombie apocalypse will find the film worth their while. Those who feel the subgenre is oversaturated will likely find further fuel for their reasoning.
Re-Kill: (3 / 5)