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Must try harder (but not much)
on 30 December 2011
Somewhere, someone said something like, "Hey, everyone loves zombies, right? And the Resident Evil films were successful. What about if we mix it with 28 Days/Weeks Later? We can't lose!"
Whoever said that lost.
The Devil's Playground doesn't so much as play homage to other (zombie/infection) movies as simply rips them off. It's mainly Resident Evil meets 28 Days/Weeks Later, but watch out for plot elements ripped right out of I Am Legend and various scenes re-worked from Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Night of the Living Dead.
London is overrun with zombies who don't just run like the modern crop seem to do these days, but also pirouette, somersault, bounce off walls and hang upside down from vans to peer in the sliding door (as opposed to simply looking inside said open sliding door). They've come a long way from Romero's `shufflers' - seriously, these guys are more graceful in the air than a ballerina. Plus, instead of just killing and eating people, they go as far as to `strike a pose' every time they enter a room, just for added menace (and to give any major characters a fair chance at running/clobbering them).
Talking of main characters - it's like a C-list of British action heroes, none of which have obviously ever seen a zombie movie, as it takes most of the film to figure out the ol' `destroy the brain' way of killing them. Danny Dyer and Craig Fairbrass fight it out for `most cockney hero' title. The leading lady spends most of her time looking frail and meek (certainly no Milla Jovovich here!). The rest of the cast just try too hard. They're a mixture of stereotypes who, if cast as `b*tchy' is UBER b*tchy, if cast as `lovable' is UBER lovable and so on. Poor Jamie Murray - she's worth so much more.
At the end of the day The Devil's Playground is quite nicely shot, but ultimately a student movie (albeit one of the better ones) with plenty of badly computer-generated smoke rising up from burning London.
If you like zombie movies, you will probably dislike this. If you already dislike the genre, this one won't win you round. There's nothing new here, just a badly-acted copy of a mish-mash of better works. Advice: stick on a Romero film, 28 Days Later, or, if you fancy something more `popcorn' a Resident Evil flick.
Oh, and note to film-makers - deserted streets of London are no longer creepy seeing as 28 Days Later did it almost ten years ago.