The Movie Waffler New Release Review - ANGER OF THE DEAD | The Movie Waffler


New Release Review - ANGER OF THE DEAD

Two women attempt to survive amid a zombie outbreak.

Review by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Directed by: Francesco Picone

Starring: Aaron Stielstra, Roberta Sparta, Michael Segal, Marius Bizau

Yes, Anger of the Dead uses all the clichés, but it also does so with such unassuming reiteration that when a well-staged shock does happen (which they do, and pretty effectively too), it jolts all the harder.

For its first quarter of an hour, Anger of the Dead is awful. If it wasn’t for professional obligation, then off it would have gone, and on would have come a Christmas DVD or Celebrity Pointless or that streaming fireplace that Netflix broadcasts at this time of year. Anything would have been preferable to the stilted acting within the clumsy opening sequence of a zombie/cannibal (‘zomcan’) somehow managing to break in to a flat and eat a small child to death, all whilst her ignorant mother enacts film history’s most expository heavy phone call in the background, telling us and her of the impending zombie outbreak (she discovers the tragedy moments later, with all the emotional response of someone whose soggy biscuit has just fallen into their cup of tea). I checked the credits to spot Uwe Boll’s involvement as producer, which didn’t help matters. I don’t mind Uwe per se; as a personality, he’s an entertaining Lars Von Trier, with Boll’s stunts far more stupidly audacious/audaciously stupid than Tri-hards are. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I’d want to sit through a film of his, complying, however indirectly, with his The Producers style scam to get rich through awful film making and byzantine tax breaks. (Perhaps I should tread with care - Boll has challenged naysaying reviewers to boxing matches in the past! No fights please Uwe, I’m a pacifist. Let’s Singstar instead!)
But then… As the film gets going, with an intriguing dual narrative where the mother from the opening (who is pregnant) journeys with a couple of fellas to find an island free of infection, while another young woman, this one on the run from a bunch of soldiers whose research facility she’s escaped from, simply tries to evade her captors, Anger of the Dead really picks up. It is as if the perpetual motion of the two leads, being chased, sprinting, dashing away from the terrible undead zomcans, is equivalent to the film, also racing away from its own potential crapness. When the film slows, the exhaustion sets in, with weirdly emotive heart to hearts between characters that just seem off. At one point, a friendly character goes through the whole ‘was she bit?’, ‘I don’t know’, ‘WASSHEBIT?’ routine. It turns out that, of course, she was bit, but any emotional investment in this fatal development is impossible as we’ve only just been introduced to her. Yes, Anger of the Dead uses all the clichés, but it also does so with such unassuming reiteration that when a well-staged shock does happen (which they do, and pretty effectively too), it jolts all the harder.
Childishly, part of my pleasure in watching Anger of the Dead was seeing an imdb synopsis with the words ‘Italian’ ‘zombie’ and ‘cannibal’ in the mix. Be warned, there are nasty, deeply exploitative sequences in Anger of the Dead, mainly involving the girl from the ‘research facility’, whom we see naked, raped and brutalised. These scenes are highly gratuitous, with the film not really earning such abjection. Which is a shame, because otherwise, female representation is positive and rounded; with Alice (Roberta Sparta) developing from useless phone mom of the beginning, to a tough, resourceful survivor during the film (and, concurrently, Sparta’s performance improves as she is given more to do; her massive eyes communicating various sensations of fear throughout). Call me a romantic, but I liked how the dual narratives complimented each other too: as the Prisoner (character name as credited, played by a tough Désirée Giorgetti) is pursued by her misogynist captor (a man who is such a villain that he actually smokes a pipe!), her counterpart Alice softly, sweetly falls in love with her companion. All this and zomcans too!
I’m not arguing that Anger of the Dead is a great film. I can’t even really make the case for it being an especially good film (although, the final sequences does involve a character moment as cathartic and beautiful as anything I’ve seen in a zomcan flick). But it is a film that I enjoyed more than I ever expected to, and for that element of surprise, I say:
Help support The Movie Waffler by sharing this post