Universal, out now
A zombie film with Arnie? Guns, explosions, body parts flying everywhere? Think again…
Arnold Schwarzenegger may have re-embraced his most iconic role as the Terminator for the latest attempt at revivification of that franchise, but his return to acting after years as the Governator also sees him stretch some other muscles, most notably in this very different sort of zombie movie, in which he plays a father whose daughter is afflicted with “necroambulism” (walking dead-ness!). There’s the odd moment of action, but on the whole this is a world away from the Walking Dead and Z Nation’s brand of zombie madness currently infesting the screen.
Can Arnie pull it off? He certainly tries his hardest, but the difficulty about an independent movie like this is that there’s nothing to hide behind, in terms of effects or action sequences, so any weaknesses in the acting are heightened. The movie posits a situation where the afflicted have to wait to see if they turn necroambulist (nobody calls them zombies) and those around them have to make the inevitable difficult decision whether to put them in a quarantine zone, euthanase them at home with an injection, or kill them quickly. It means there’s a strong focus on the relationship between Schwarzenegger’s Wade and Abigail Breslin as his affected daughter and on the whole it’s as credible as anything can be in this sort of world.
As the accompanying interviews and director’s commentary demonstrate, Schwarzenegger, Breslin, writer John Scott III and director Henry Hobson try their best to do something different with the zombie genre here, and while it doesn’t succeed completely, it’s certainly a valiant effort.
Verdict: Like Stallone in Cop Land years ago, this is Schwarzenegger trying to show the range of his dramatic abilities – and succeeding. 6/10