2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: State of Emergency [DVD] (DVD)
Whilst there have been a glut of Zombie related films and videogames over the last few years there is always room for either a fresh new take on the genre or just a film that does the current tropes really well. State of Emergency does try to be fresh but falls down in too many key areas to be anything other than watchable at best.
The film focuses on human drama rather than all out zombie action and the narrative is kept simple, centred on main protagonist Jim's battle for survival. Don't expect an action blasting gorefest or zombie's that look like the box art (what was the marketing department thinking?) These are 28 Days Later running zombies so expect red contact lenses and some make up, nothing special but they do the job. The opening 15 minute section creates decent tension with no dialogue as Jim finds an empty building to hide along with a tense zombie encounter. The film unfortunately starts to go south when Jim meets up with three other survivors in a warehouse which provides the basis for the rest of the film.
For a film that focuses almost entirely on human drama the characters are really poorly drawn and the script and performances mostly substandard. Husband and wife team Scott and Julie never really feel like they're husband and wife and Alix ("call me `Ix'") seems to be the only one with any dimension even if she's completely drawn from the stereotype of moody vulnerable girl who has a heart of gold inside. The film certainly leans towards the male power fantasy side of things, Julie is just the mother role, healer and cook, we barely see any of her in the film. Ix exists to do nothing other than give Jim someone to connect with and drive some of the plot, although her performance is better than the others and her character probably the most fleshed out. The women are really poorly represented on the most part, playing the fifties helpless maidens which has no place in modern film making. There's even one point where a zombie attacks and one of them runs off with the guns!
This leaves us with Jim and Scott leading the charge in any of the real "doing" which subjects the audience to several emotionless discussions which sound more like two gamers talking co-op tactics on Xbox live than two real humans stuck in a dangerous situation fighting for their lives. This poor execution combined with Scott Lilly's incredibly flat performance as Scott (failing to play himself convincingly?) leaves a film that lacks any real weight and flattens the majority of dramatic moments. Scott's description early on of seeing his neighbour's husband eating his wife's has the same amount of emotion as describing a walk to the shops and seeing a dog urinating on a lamp post. Whilst Jay Hayden gives a better performance as Jim, he's given so little to work with in the script.
This is a shame as the rest of the film has real potential. The scenes are well shot to a budget and the cinematography is consistently decent, Turner Clay can certainly direct good scenes visually, even if he can't write them. There's even a unique take on a zombie that I haven't seen before but sadly this was not explored for more than the 30 seconds it lasted as this could've really helped the film. If Clay can get good writers in I'd like to see more of his work but as it stands this film lacks any believability within its own narrative.
For me this film can be filed under those I'm glad I watched but with far too many flaws to be considered good and really squandered some interesting potential. With a script that could handle proper human interaction and performances to match it this may have even been great. Sadly, it's one that really only belongs in the bargain bucket.