31 Days of Nightmares — Unearthed & The Battery
Sometimes you watch movies that are probably going to be terrible in hopes of finding a hidden gem. Not today.
This is a movie about a giant sea monkey. Seriously. It’s some kind of alien monster that went into hibernation by forming a protective cyst, and one character says, “Like brine shrimp!” As far as creature features go, I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen better. There are really nice practical effects, a handful of decent CGI shots, and some terrible, terrible CGI shots of the monster that ruin all the good stuff. It’s your basic Alien type alien, but this time in the American southwest.
All that would be forgivable if not for the awful, awful characters. Everyone here is the worst, laziest stereotype. The Native Americans are all either wise old men or angry young warriors. The black guy from the city is every token black guy and every “city guy stranded in a small town” in every movie you’ve ever seen. No one is even remotely likable, so you just kind of wait around for them to be killed.
There are some spectacular kills, by the way. A lot of those practical effects went into some gruesomely mutilated corpses.
Emmanuelle Vaugier stands out here, and sadly not in a good way. It took me forever to recognize her as The Morrigan from Lost Girl! Here she gets the leading role, as the small town sheriff. There are two problems, though. For one thing, I’ve never seen a performance so phoned in. She mumbles her lines in a flat, deadpan monotone from start to finish. Is the character clinically depressed, or was Emmanuelle? The other problem is, this “hero” character drives drunk while on duty and apparently killed a little girl a few months ago, probably while drunk on duty. And there are other characters who defend her, even though everyone in town knows she’s the drunk sheriff who killed a kid. Anyone who criticizes her for this is made to be a bad guy. Also, and I’ll be honest I wasn’t paying real close attention at this point, but I think the monster is defeated because it bites her and her and she was so drunk it died from alcohol poisoning.
While I like the idea of a low-key, indie aesthetic for a zombie movie, this was just boring. Two guys wander the post-apocalypse. One is a decent survivor type, the other a total waste of air. They were apparently baseball players before the zombie thing happened. The one guy is such a whiny, useless piece of crap it renders the movie unwatchable. The zombie effects are among the worst I’ve seen, and there are long stretches of dudes bickering or a dude listening to indie music on headphones. This mostly feels like a self-indulgent excuse for some hipsters to put a bunch of bland hipster bands they like in a movie. There’s one interestingly transgressive masturbation scene involving the whiny guy and a cute zombie girl who apparently died while not wearing a bra, but three minutes of, “Oh my god, what the fuck this is so weird and creepy,” is not enough to make this worth watching.