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(2011)
Directed by John Geddes
Starring Mark Gibson, Dee Wallace, Bill Moseley, Stephen McHattie, Jordan Hayes, Adam Seybold, Ari Millen, Jason David Brown, and Brian Cox

Too often we get a movie to review that we don’t go into with a slight sense of dread, assuming that we are in for just another low budget, lack of originality, quickly made movie that is really going to leave us wanting our 90 minutes back.  Even just looking at the box art and seeing it is a zombie movie around the time of the Civil War is something sort of different, but we were still setting our hopes pretty low.  But much to our surprise, that was not the case when we sat down with John Geddes’ EXIT HUMANITY. 

The film is a somber tale of a soldier who fought in the Civil War, the same time an outbreak of zombies started as well.  We then learn that once he arrives home from the war, his wife has become one of the undead and his son is missing.  I will say that about the first 20 minutes of this film seems to go on way too long, since most of the time our main character, played by Mark Gibson, is either in tears or loudly shouting his grief all over the place.  And just when you think he’s done and has moved on….it starts all over again.  And again.  But once you get past this, the rest of the movie makes up for it.

This film is a great example what happens when you have a bunch of talented people working on the film.  Not only from the writer/director and the actors, but also the production designer, makeup effects, cinematographer, and everyone else that puts their heart and soul into these types of films, it really makes a difference.  And this film is a great example of that.  Some might be cautious when you have the director who is also the writer, editor, one of the actors, as well as one of the producers.  And rightfully so.  Filming what you’ve written and then editing down, it could be pretty tough to cut certain things, even if it might make the film too slow.  I do think that was the case for the first part of the film.  After that, I think it moves along at a good pace.

The film is well shot with some great imagery filling our screen.  With most of the film taking place in the wilderness, or heavily wooded areas, there are plenty of shots of the beautiful landscapes, with a zombie thrown in there every now and then for good measure.  Another very interesting thing they did here was the use of some old style animation, like something out of a Bakshi movie.  They used it sometimes to show a flashback sequence as well as a transition to different scenes.

The makeup designs for the zombies were not the usual sort that we see in all the zombie films that have been breaking out onto DVD over the last few years.   Changing things around a bit, but not straying from what they are, the makeup team did a great job with the look of the undead creatures.  Some of them are pretty simple, while others are a bit more gooey and red.

This really isn’t a zombie movie, but a decent story that just happens to have zombies staggering about at the same time.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of zombies.  But the story is more about the loss of humanity in the ones that are still living than with the walking dead, and how the characters react and deal with the ones that are still alive but have different goals.  Granted, this is not an old storyline, but it works here.

I was unaware of who was actually in the movie, so when I first heard the narration, it caught me off guard.  I thought this was some low budget film made by a bunch of struggling artists.  But somehow they manage to get Brian Cox to do the voiceover through the film.  With such a great voice, his talent really gave the story more of an impact.  One of the lines he reads near the end of the film, “When you choose hope…anything is possible”, hits home, as one of the themes of the film.

Seeing Bill Moseley’s face wasn’t as much of a surprise since he works a lot in the low budget market.  But none the less, when we do see him, we always know that he is going to deliver the goods.  Moseley might be typecast most of the time, but he is a damn good actor and is always enjoyable in anything he appears in.  Same goes with Dee Wallace.  Always nice to see and always fun to watch.  But the real surprise was seeing Stephen McHattie in there as an old doctor.  Even though we’ve seen him in tons of stuff over the years, it wasn’t until his performance in PONTYPOOL that we finally discovered his name.  But unfortunately, as much as we love him, he was really wasted here.  Not having much dialog, other than a few grunts here and there, it was really disappointed not to see him in a better role.

The soundtrack, by Jeff Graville and Nate Kreiswirth, fits perfectly with the Civil War era with the banjo sounds.  But they are still able to create a very moody and effective score throughout the movie.

So overall, after a bit of a rough start, we did enjoy this stylistic and somber tale of a man’s battle with himself and his past.  Worth seeking out.