JUNE 6, 2008
On one hand, I really hate saying anything negative about independent films such as The Wickeds, which are clearly made with the best intentions (as opposed to soulless pieces of shit like A Brush With Death), are technically well done, and live up to their promise (in this case, zombie action). On the other hand, it costs me, the viewer, just as much to rent/buy it as any other movie, and thus its (non-budget related) faults cannot be instantly forgiven just because the filmmakers didn’t have a catering truck or a large crew.
For starters, writer David Zagorski really needed to focus on a single genre. He goes all over the place – we start with a vampire (who looks awful), then it’s zombies (which look really good), then some possession/ghost stuff comes into play, and the final ‘shock’ involves something else entirely, a demon or something (one of the ‘survivors’ suddenly has red eyes, which no other monster in the film has displayed). I assume they couldn’t afford a werewolf costume, or else that probably would have gotten tossed in as well. It’s not that combining subgenres is a bad thing, but since the zombie/vampire stuff is front and center, the other things just seem like they were making it up as they go along.
The monsters are also inconsistent – some of the zombies talk, others just moan. Standard rules are also ignored: the vampire can go in daylight (the entire movie is set during the day, which is actually kind of interesting), and for some reason they use crosses to defend themselves against the zombies? Again, these things are fine when they are used as part of the plot (such as in John Carpenter’s Vampires), but here it’s not explained in any reasonable manner.
It also has what has to be the longest non-sexual sex scene in film history. For the first half hour, we are constantly treated to makeouts and dry humping between two of our stock group of characters, at one point for a full two minutes. It’s even shot like the intro to a softcore sex scene, but even when they finally get around to removing some clothing, there is nothing shown but side boob. Thanks for wasting our time, jerks! There’s some irony in the fact that a film starring Ron Jeremy would have pointless ‘sex’ scenes, I suppose, but that’s not enough to make it worthwhile.
Yes, Jeremy stars in the film as one of the two grave robbers who inadvertently resurrect the zombies. He’s the best part of the film by far; in addition to the fact that he’s simply a better actor than the kids (who range from merely dull to shockingly bad/annoying), he also seems to be enjoying himself, and has a few choice lines that made me chuckle. None of the movie is supposed to be taken seriously, but at times he seems to be the only one who remembers that.
Another downer is the direction/cinematography ranges from pedestrian to just plain terrible. Blocking is awkward, shots don’t match (particularly in the outdoor scenes), etc. Worst of all is the fact that at least two major characters are killed without any buildup or even sense that they are in danger. Not in a shock-kill type way like in Serenity (the only time in film history I have heard an entire audience gasp/yell “NO!” when a major character was killed), but in the “oh we forgot to film a shot of the zombies approaching him” way. We will be focusing on two characters fighting by the window or something, and then suddenly cut to a shot of another lead already being devoured by 3 or 4 zombies. Not only is this annoying from a dramatic standpoint, but it’s just confusing as well. And it’s not just in the kill scenes; at one point a character is in the graveyard when it was never even made clear that he left the house. Since the film is being shot on video and stars only amateur actors (save Jeremy), I find it hard to believe that they couldn’t go back and insert missing shots once they got into editing and realized some important coverage was missing.
Otherwise, like I said, it’s admirable. The meta/Scream type humor is a bit tired, but it’s not usually applied to a zombie film, so it feels a bit fresher than it would in yet another slasher film. The gore effects are impressive as well - and no obvious CG to boot. And it’s pretty fast-paced (other than the sex scenes), there’s hardly more than a couple minutes in the film without zombie or vampire action. There are also a few nice touches I appreciated, like the zombie kid in the baseball uniform who brushes off his shoes before resuming his chase of one of our heroes.
Speaking of the baseball kid, the Foley artist for this movie needs to be shot. Almost none of the sound effects sound right. The sound of the kid being hit with the bat sounds like two floor mats being smacked together; when someone is punched we hear wood being hit (?), etc. It’s funny, back in film school I had to do a project where our teacher would give us clips with no sound and we had to create the soundtrack. I got a clip from Night of the Living Dead (Molotov/ride to gas pump sequence), and needless to say, it wouldn’t pass for the real soundtrack. But that’s what this movie sounded like at times, and the film’s obvious NOTLD references made the comparison even easier to make.
There are other nice horror references as well – the house that the film takes place in is said to be the shooting location for a “cheesy straight to video horror movie” (some of that meta humor for you), and one of the corpses looks made up to resemble Mrs. Voorhees. Most folks would go for a hockey mask, so going a bit more obscure is much appreciated.
For its faults, everyone involved should be proud of what they achieved. I don’t know the budget or anything (and the disc is entirely lacking of extras), but it couldn’t be much, and a check of the IMDb reveals... a 404 timeout error (as of this writing, the IMDb is down for the first time I have ever seen in a decade!). So assuming that this was their first or second film, and not their 20th, that they pulled off a fairly large scale zombie film that is above average on the technical side for these things is not something to be dismissed, even if the script/editing leaves something to be desired.
What say you?