Louis Does TADFest – Review of Exit Humanity
Edward Young (Mark Gibson), a young soldier encounters an enemy that does not die when shot. Such is the opening of writer-director John Geddes‘ “Exit Humanity”. Set in the era just after the end of the American Civil War, the movie explores a man struggling with both his existence and and his tenacity to survive a landscape that has been overcome with zombies. His original task of finding a lost child eventually changes to finding a land without the dead. While along the way he finds another former soldier with a mission of his own to save his sister. A mission that Young takes up alongside his new friend.
The movie contains beautiful, lengthy shots of the Collingwood, Ontario landscape where it was shot and meant to stand in for 1870′s Tennessee. The set design of the era ends up acting more of a centrepiece than a backdrop as it is as much a character of the film as the actors walking across the screen. Long, simple shots of the natural countryside permeate the film. At no point does the director visually allow the set to deviate from the mood and tone, letting the landscape and scenery slowly unfold as both the movie and the men move through it.
The soundtrack is first rate, well produced and as stunning as the landscape though, at many points throughout the film, it seems as if the wrong soundtrack was used. As a result the scenery, action and soundtrack don’t always mesh well to create the mood intended by the director. The overuse of driving beats during moments when quiet contemplation is required only serves to confuse and ultimately tire viewers. Pacing was too slow to allow for such a driven, speedy soundtrack. The movie had such great potential as all of the elements are there. The poor pacing is what eventually did it in as even the most ardent of fans will likely been worn out long before the movie reaches its climax.
While early emotional turmoil helps build a character that the audience both cares about and can identify with, the dissention into an existential crisis every few minutes about losing humanity over killing zombies just becomes tiresome as one hopes for the action to begin. The action never really does begin, much to the disappointment of zombie fans. The few zombies we see are well done, but are regulated to minor character status, rather than an ever present threat.
The cast is stacked with Dee Wallace (Cujo), Stephen McHattie (Haven), Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects) and narrator Brian Cox (The Ring). Newcomer Mark Gibson does an excellent job as the main character showing a wide emotional range. He conveys the character with depth and a slight touch as it is called for. However, having such talent cannot overcome the various problems the film has with its pacing, dialogue and editing issues.
Adding a creative edge to what is becoming a more widespread but tired genre coupled with both the seriousness and sparseness of the film should attract a larger audience however the pacing and the lack of blood will alienate the core of zombie film fans. I really wanted to like this film. I want to watch zombies kill and be killed, not be treated to two hours of someone’s angst about losing their humanity doing so.
In the end, the film never delivers on its promise.