Sunday 24 October 2010

The Zombie Monologues (2010)

Director: Andrew Lane
Stars: Nadia Townsend and Simon Maiden
This film was an official selection at the 6th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Tempe in 2010. Here's an index to my reviews of 2010 films.

Channel 8 News is reporting on the zombie apocalypse from a position of safety behind some wheelie bins, but one 'freshly turned member of the undead horde' notices them and wanders over. She doesn't want to eat their brains because she's a liberated zombie, a vegetarian no less; she's Annie and she just wants a cigarette. This Australian short film is all about her, so we only get glimpses of the vast mass of shuffling zombies, none of whom seem quite as at home with the possibilities inherent in their new status in life (or should that be undeath?). Annie sees herself as a good zombie, a template for what the rest could be, if they only decided to be honest with themselves and reject the stereotypes. Cheating death gives her a responsibility to stretch the boundaries, she thinks, so she's very dismissive of everything, as if zombies are a political movement or at least a rebel ethos.

The title's take on The Vagina Monologues is appropriate, as that play treated the vagina as a 'tool of female empowerment and the ultimate embodiment of individuality' and this short aims to do no less for zombies, though the seriousness is all about making this a very dry spoof. As Annie asks rhetorical questions like, 'Did we lose our integrity with our skin tone?', half the joy is in the dryness of her delivery and half in translating such rhetoric into the mouths of activists for more traditional minorities. This could easily play as the first half of a double bill with Rising Up: The Story of the Zombie Rights Movement and probably a bunch of other shorts too. The more zombie shorts I see, the more I realise it isn't just about the ease of acquiring an undead horde, it's also about the ease of drawing parallels with almost anything in modern society. Films like Gay Zombie and Cupcake: A Zombie Lesbian Musical were perhaps inevitable.
On screen, Nadia Townsend is about 90% of the film, so almost everything beyond director Andy Lane's initial script and dialogue falls onto her shoulders, which fortunately prove to be capable. A second generation actor, she's been busy for a decade with long running regular slots on TV shows (City Homicide is ongoing) and even a prominent role in the Nicolas Cage film, Knowing. It's good to see someone of that stature appearing in obscure weirdness like this as well and she seems to have relished the experience. The flaws in the film aren't hers, but stem mostly from the fact that The Zombie Monologues outstays its welcome a little. Something that aims only to be a spoof can only run so long without needing to start answering the questions it throws out there and this film doesn't want to do that. If a little trimming is all that's needed, this is another worthy zombie short, even though gorehounds will be disappointed at the lack of action.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Hi Hal, thanks you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful review. Having re-watched the film lately I agree with your observations of the films flaws.
I find this kind of feedback is invaluable in improving my next film. Glad you liked it!