(Avoiding Spoilers) This is a movie that I've seen 3 times. Each time I've walked away with something different. Rather than try to sum up my reactions, I will merely use those reactions to describe how I feel now.
The first time I saw the movie was in July 2009 at a relatively private screening hosted by some of the Filmmakers themselves. I was exhausted by a month's worth of work and had very little rest that day, so when I watched the movie, I didn't really watch it. I nodded off, just stared into space, stuff of that nature. Not really discerning at all, I know. Which is probably why, after much peer pressure from the surrounding Art-House audience, I subsequently described the film as one of the most underrated I'd seen. I convinced myself that it was great to the point that I was literally dying to see it a second time.
Skip ahead to the film's Home Video release and my first-ever order off Amazon. I watched the film alone this time, without the Art-House audience and without the personal exhaustion. I was fully discerning this time around. My reaction, to say the least, was somewhat drastically different. It was now one of the most overrated and pretentious films I'd ever seen. Maybe a result of disappointment, but pretty much, I now hated the movie.
Skip ahead to yesterday. I still have the Blu Ray, so I decided to stick it in and give it another go, thinking I was maybe too harsh on the film given how much I loved it originally. My feelings have changed, but not so much to the point that I'd call the film anything good. With my best hopes at being as discerning as possible, here is why: Brave concept, but a failure at execution.
The film tries to mix a High School Romantic Comedy, like that of a John Hughes film, with that of a George Romero Zombie flick, and instead crashes under the weight of having two entirely separate movies in one, one of which is far more interesting than the other. The zombie romance is what this movie should've focused on and pretty much stayed on. This is its central problem, and I just thought I'd outline it outright, because most of the problems with the script stem from this.
The Zombie scenes, creepy and disturbing in their own right, are too drastically different from the Romantic Comedy. There is too much of a contrast, and as a result, the actions of many of the characters, particularly that of the Kid, are so radically implausible that much is rendered to the point of being unintentionally funny. Then, there's the many things characters do and say that are only there for the sake of the Script. Its schizophrenic and feels like there's too many fingers in the pie, in that the Directors and Writers didn't have anything set in stone and didn't have any strong sense of singular direction. Because of this, the last line of the movie pretty much plays like the movie has surrendered to its own stupidity and ineptitudes.
Speaking of ineptitude, the acting is of particular note. Granted, considering the film's budget, this is forgivable. Most of its okay, given what the actors are working with, but some of it sticks out like a sore thumb. On the other end of the spectrum, though, Shelley Marie Shartzer's Zombie, was played nicely. Creepy in pretty much every scene she's in.
The soundtrack is awesome, if you ask me. The brightest spot of the film. The track 'West Winds' in particular is one I've loved ever since I saw the film.
The Cinematography is something that shines at points and trudges at others. At no point is it bad, and at some points its pretty damn good, but a strong portion of it looks like something out of a soap opera. It looks too much like video, and on Blu Ray, much of the film's native 720p video sticks out on a 1080p TV. I mean, you can tell when they switched to cameras recording at 1080p and those recording at 720p.
As much as I've dogged onto the writing, I gotta admit, for certain individual scenes, its good. "Let's get awesome!" has made me chuckle each time I've watched the film.
Regarding the Special Features, 'The Formation of Limerent Pictures' is an intelligent and telling Making-Of Documentary on the film, and gives great insights. The Deleted Scenes, well, they were deleted for a reason, and are totally there for fans of the film, if not necessarily me.
Concluding, I don't hate the movie. I just don't like it. I admire the guts of its initial concept, but its execution could be described from mediocre to abysmal overall. As far as first films go, this isn't one of the must-sees, especially for repeated viewings.