Sure, superheroes are interesting. Everyone loves a good rags-to-riches story of some schmuck suddenly receiving great power and the great responsibility that comes with it.
But superheroes live in an inherently melodramatic universe with hard distinctions between good and evil.
In reality, if any schmuck received great powers, they would probably be oblivious to the real consequences and fuck it up for everyone.
Aaah! Zombies!! (also known as Wasting Away) doesn’t stick any closer to reality because, duh, zombies, but instead it takes this idea of schmucks gaining supernatural abilities and runs with it to mostly delightful ends.
The plot’s set in motion when a military-made green Re-Animator type liquid somehow contaminates a box soft-serve ice-cream base outside a bowling alley (that’s the not sticking close to reality part).
Four friends, Tim, the bashful employee of the bowling alley, Cindy, his uptight object of affection, Mike, the charismatic goofy one, and Vanessa, the no-nonsense cynical one, eat ice-cream made of the contaminated zombie juice and violently transform into the undead. Only they don’t know that.
To the friends, their perception of the world hasn’t changed, with the exception everything seems to be moving a little faster. They eventually run into a man who calls himself Nick Steele that purports to be a member of a black-ops unit in the military that developed the green liquid as a failed super-soldier serum that would kill all who were injected with it, excluding those who had just recently consumed dairy.
With this serum comes a whole host of things – an inability to die short of head trauma, increased strength, a hankering for brains (“Brain margarita anyone?”) – but Aaah! Zombies!! cares more about using our main foursome as a thin metaphor for outsiders.
The movie opens in black and white but switches to color once the main four turn. The movie then spends the rest of the time switching between the color and B&W to emphasize the dissonance between what Tim, Mike, Cindy, and Vanessa perceive themselves to be – just normal teenagers who’ve gotten super powers – and what the world fears them for being – flesh eating zombies.
The scant conversations about persecution and the military industrial complex are second banana to the various gags, mostly in the terms of having the main characters doing something simple, such as kiss, and then switching to the B&W perspective to show how ridiculous it actually looks. This means that the movie kind of falls apart in the final 10 minutes when the gags go away and it tries to find a dramatically satisfying ending. Instead of sticking with the clear cut ending it eventually lands on, it cycles through every permutation of how the story could end, only it all occurs in a linear structure which makes moot the sacrifices and lessons of others once they move on to the next “ending”.
If Aaah! Zombies!! were made today, it would probably be the kind of movie that would be partially funded by Kickstarter and include a wall of producers’ credits at the end. If anything, the movie shows how other and foreign indie cinema has become: The movie thinks it’s a scraping little Slamdance-baiting feature, but it is really just a passion project among a group of friends.
But still, as passion projects go, it’s pretty good.
Watch Aaah Zombies / Wasting Away:
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: JJ Perkins