Disaster L.A.: the Last Zombie Apocalypse (2014)

Disaster LA Movie

Disaster L.A.: the Last Zombie Apocalypse might be the only zombie movie that’s improved by not showing zombies. (Even if it does have a criminally stupid subtitle. I don’t recall the zombies being defeated, and since a new zombie film premieres every 3.4 seconds, this won’t even be the last one this year.) Gripes aside, when the film starts off, the first 30 minutes has a strong set-up; centering around Los Angeles being hit by a cluster of asteroids. While anyone who looked at the box art knows that the film is about zombies, keeping the zombies hidden works surprisingly well. (Especially considering how hard I derided Resident Evil for attempting the same trick.) Maybe it’s just the current state of horror, where everything is about zombies, but I really enjoyed the respite from frenetic brain-eating when the filmmakers opted for atmosphere over undead gore.

In a nice nod to the godfather of zombie films, George Romero, Disaster L.A. opens with the Earth being bombarded by meteors; meteors which cause humans to become brainless zombies. (While the cause of the zombie apocalypse is never identified in Night of the Living Dead, it is revealed that there was a strange meteor crash earlier that day before the events take place. This has caused many viewers to believe that this is what caused the dead to rise, this or some sort of radio waves from Jupiter.

In Disaster L.A., it’s understood that the meteor has caused the zombie outbreak. Which sets the film up, tonally, as the polar opposite of Romero’s. Whereas Romero always focused on people becoming trapped in the various levels of civilization, here it’s a group of friends trapped in one of the largest cities in the world. Granted, in Land of the Dead our heroes were also confined in a city, but it was a city surrounded by water; thus providing a sense of inclosure.

Disaster has none of that. Instead it provides otherwise gorgeous sunsets (the stuff of postcards and tourism boards), freeways (all offering chances to escape), and enough housing that the protagonists could conceivably hide out for ages and never be found by the roving bands of zombies. It’s our heroes own overpowering fear that leads to their downfall. (In a sense you could say that, in this, the zombies are the superior life form, in that they don’t bring their own demise upon themselves.

This, naturally, only works if you allow your own mind to run free when watching the film. Otherwise what you’ll get is a live action version of Dying Light. Not the worst thing in the world, but certainly something you’d rather play than watch.

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