Zoombies (2016): Just Dreadful (Review)

Zombie monkey in Zoombies

The Asylum strikes again.  The production company already corners the market for hokey FX, silly storylines and beating a dead horse with its “Sharknado”  franchise.  (“Sharknado 4” is already in production so just when you thought it was safe to return to the  SyFy channel.) At least with the “shark” series, the joke was that the shows are so bad they could almost be good. “Zoombies,” unfortunately is just dreadful, with a capital d.

The CG animals are abysmal.  It seems that The Asylum have not yet sussed out that computer generated sharks can look marginally okay compared to CG lemurs, capuchin monkeys and lions.  Not content to give its audience fake looking zombie animals that look like first generation video game creations, the filmmakers add insult to injury by giving us a bloke in a gorilla suit as an endangered silverback that gets zombie-d.

Incredibly some of the cast manage to rise above the dreck material and  Brit actress Ione Butler really stands out as the security guard who just starts at the animal sanctuary.

The storyline has Dr. Ellen Rogers (Kim Nielsen) running the endangered species sanctuary her grandfather started 50 years previously.  A virus takes over the capuchin monkeys and turns them into zoombies when the treating doctor gives them an injection not intended for primates. 

The virus spreads through the “zoo” as the new recruits and the existing staff are killed off by the animals.  A SWAT team arrives to kill off the infected animals and they are slaughtered by the zoombies.

Ellen has her daughter at work, her babysitter called in ill, and she must not only try to save the animals and her staff but keep Thea (LaLa Nestor) safe as well.  

Clearly The Asylum got “Jurassic World” fever and decided to produce a film that would make the viewer possibly think of the latest big screen offering in the Jurassic verse.

The main filming location was Arcadia, California, home of the Los Angeles Arboretum and viewers familiar with that place will no doubt find themselves looking for the “Fantasy Island” lagoon and Mr. Rourke’s house/hotel. (They needn’t bother it never makes an appearance.) Second unit shots are clearly either brought in from other  film stock footage, or a unit was sent to film the Ontario police helicopter  as it flew  into the frame.

In terms of things that just do not work, the talking parrot, which sits on a new intern’s shoulder fluctuating between repeating his sentences and mocking him, is another example how the FX for this film just does not work. The parrots “voice” ‘being far from convincing it is an irritant rather than being amusing.

There is one bit of the film that works brilliantly. As Leslie (Butler) and the remnants of the security team stand in front of an exploding building, the force of the blast pushes them all back and onto the ground. The actors do this flawlessly and in unison so it almost makes up for the shot itself.

This was a disappointing project from the team who manage to entertain so thoroughly with Z Nation on SyFy (which is coming back for a third season).  Granted this is also the same folks who seem determined to make “Sharknado” films till the end of time.  It is annoying that The Asylum can get some things so right, like “Z Nation” and other things so wrong, like “Zoombies.”

Unlike the shark infested franchise where a parade of B and Z list celebrities march through via cameos and quirky deaths, “Zoombies” has no name actors to fill in gaps.

Streaming on Netflix at the moment, it may be marginally entertaining if one is partaking of a certain herbal treat, otherwise avoid this one. Although there is a shot of the gorilla Kifo (lurching after the survivors)  where the camera  zooms in for a close up, the head of the creature has changed for  one instant into the face of a gorilla who is smilingly chasing the humans. That is funny, even without any aids.

“Zoombies” earns a 2 star rating mainly because of Ione Butler.  Were this actress not in the film it may have garnered a half star, if that.



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