I, Zombie: The Chronicles of Pain is a low budget, Indie zombie mockumenrtary film that charts one man’s decline into illness
I, Zombie: The Chronicles of Pain (1998) is an oddity in the zombie film genre and it brings us a new twist on the traditional zombie film.
Instead of the usual herds picking off survivors, this is one man and his struggle to come to terms with becoming the flesh eating undead. The film depicts a totally different insight to world of zombies – there is no apocalypse, there are no secret groups of survivors running from swarms of zombies….just one man, progressively getting worse and worse.
This is the screenplay and directorial debut of Andrew Parkinson, and it’s both interesting and intriguing. The film was self-funded and was eventually picked up by Fangoria for distribution.
As far as first feature films go, this is a fairly decent attempt and a laudable attempt to inject something new and different into a well established genre.
The Slow Descent:
The film follows Mark (Giles Aspen), after he is bitten by a woman he mistakenly thinks is sick.
A lot of this film is set in Mark’s flat as he goes through the process of becoming a zombie which appears to take over a year. He appears to be one of the only people affected by this. Confusingly, there are ‘interviews’ with his ex-girlfriend Sarah (Ellen Softly), her new man David (Dean Sipling) and just one small, out of place clip of Marks Friend (Andrew Parkinson). Although these give a sense of how quickly Mark disappeared, and how long he’s been gone, they do little else for the story.
At times, the film feels almost as slow Mark’s transformation. There isn’t really enough gore to sink your teeth into, and it’s not really frightening in the ‘make you jump out of your skin’ kind of way.
This film is a prolonged character study and its focus is on Mark’s psychological decline over time. But what it does well is show you how this man becomes completely isolated and how his condition changes the man that he is. As the tagline ‘his soul was the last to go’ would suggest, he doesn’t change because he is a brainless corpse, he changes mentally to adapt to how he is changing physically.
The Repulsion of Killing:
On first watching this film, you are sometimes drawn to make comparisons with things like Colin (2008) or Warm Bodies (2013). A rare insight into the Zombies, rather than following the people.
I, Zombie, however, shows a more human zombie. A zombie that you can really relate to. A zombie who hates the fact he has to kill people to survive. You find yourself wanting to befriend Mark and give him a hug, regardless of the potential death that such an action might involve.
Throughout the film you get very little information about the character that Mark once was, and you don’t learn too much about him. But this works in a weird sort of way. You are greeted with this complete stranger who you feel sympathy for almost from the beginning.
You would be forgiven if you went into this film expecting a humour, and a black comedy. The name would suggest a b-movie, humorous, almost Evil Dead style zombie film, but that is not strictly the case. What humour exists is very dark – there is a slightly funny part, during a scene of Zombie masturbation when Mark literally falls apart because of it (not a scene for the squeamish). Even still, it makes you laugh but then you instantly feel sad that the only form of pleasure for him is now also gone.
The story itself is endearing, intriguing, and generally quite interesting. The execution isn’t the best, but it adds to the rough feel of the film – the entire film was shot on 16mm film to add to the documentary-style feel (and budget constraints probably also made this an attractive option).
Director, Andrew Parkinson, has attempted to make a pseudo-documentary with a narrative edge, but it doesn’t always work that well. This film leaves you feeling conflicted – he’s a zombie, he eats people, yet you want to help him and almost protect him.
The film itself is a true underdog/Indie ‘success’ story (with ‘success being defined as the ability to bring your idea to life and overcome all setbacks) – created with a near zero budget, Parkinson took 4 years to finish the film, working on it when budget and savings would allow. At times there was so little cash that Parkison could not afford to pay for travel fees, and casted his actors without any recognizable audition process. What stunts that you see if the film were all performed by the actors themselves.
The film received a mixed reception upon release, and fans brought up on today’s modern horror films, or those looking for pure horror will probably get frustrated at the lack of gore and scares.
Watch ‘I, Zombie: Chronicles of Pain’:
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Sarah Taylor