Ginger Nuts of Horror
ANGER OF THE DEAD (2016)
Dir. Francesco Picone, Italy/Canada, 84 mins
I should start with something of a disclaimer – I've never massively been on for zombie films. Sure, I enjoy some of the classics, but for me it's a subgenre that of late has become distinctly overdone without a real injection of freshness or interest. So when Anger of the Dead was offered my way, it was one I approached with a sort of mild interest rather than a rabid excitement. As an Italian production – a country with a strong pedigree in the field – this one had quite something to live up to.
But overall I have to say Anger of the Dead was a pleasant surprise – there's nothing revelatory here, but this is an effective apocalyptic tale which does have an emotional heart to it. The tale begins with Alice taking a pregnancy test and watching riots break out on TV – but of course these are no ordinary riots. A lone zombie breaks into her flat and proceeds to devour her daughter while she is powerless to defend her – but of course we find out she has another child on the way...
We cut to four months later, where Alice is accompanied by Stephen and they are driving through the devastation simply trying to stay alive. When they discover a message talking about a boat headed to an island uninfected by the zombie virus, they are given a glimmer of hope, something to drive them on through the nightmare-infested wasteland ahead of them. This coincides with a subplot following Rooker, a mysterious but dark figure who is seeking out a female prisoner that has escaped from his 'refuge' We swiftly find out just how uncompromising he is, and what he will do to bring his prey back. When Alice and Stephen stumble across his path, things are about to become even more difficult for our heroes, and they have both the living and the undead to worry about.
What sets this apart from some of the other zombie features I've seen – as I've intimated – is that there's more emotionally going on here than standard. Alice has her newborn baby to think about, and a strange, burgeoning relationship with Stephen in difficult circumstances. Peter – whom they pick up along the way – is forced to kill his own sister when she is infected. Even the seemingly uncaring Rooker has his reasons for pursuing the unspeaking prisoner. While some of the zombie effects don't necessarily look great, and the filming looks a bit low-budget in places, there ws enough here to keep me interested and rooting for the characters – and as I say, in a subgenre that's not my favourite, that's no mean feat.
RATING: 7/10. It's rare that a zombie flick really aims to break down barries and try something truly different – Pontypool being a notable exception in my eyes – and there are many of the classic tropes here. We have our noble survivors trying to do things the right way, our cruel bad guys willing to survive by any means, the distant ray of hope that keeps the main characters pushing on through their respective personal hells. But personally I feel like there's more going on storywise and there's a bit more heart and soul here than I'm used to, so for that reason it's a very respectable 7/10 here. Not up there with some of the Italian zombie classics, but not a bad addition to the pantheon all the same.