Exit Humanity – Review
June 28, 2012 Leave a comment
Review by FilmFellaHenry – 4.5/10
Sporting yet another genre mash-up, horror flick Exit Humanity attempts to fuse Westerns with zombies, against an American Civil War backdrop. As 1870’s Tennessee becomes swamped with hordes of the undead, gunslinger Edward Young (Mark Gibson) endures a lonely trek through the wilderness in search of his missing son Adam (Christian Martyn). Encountering friends and foes alike, the constant killing slowly wears Young down, threatening his very sense of humanity. Charting his travels in a diary, we see his life in retrospect, as narrated by a wavey-voiced Brian Cox.
The concept of a trigger happy lonestar traipsing through bad country nursing a personal loss hardly breaks new ground; in fact the lack of originality seems to be a constant issue with the film. From an opening act that seems suspiciously akin to the Undead Nightmare expansion pack for Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption game, it’s clear that writer/director John Geddes won’t be creating anything fresh. Granted, the majority of horrors rarely introduce true originality to a storyline, banking their strengths on the ability to inspire suspense, atmosphere and (if you’re lucky) terror. On this front, Exit Humanity misses the bar.
Ultimately this is down to how the idea has been treated and its subsequent poor execution. Despite a well-trodden storyline, you could do worse than sport a morally ambiguous broken gunslinger as your protagonist, with a host of flesh craving fiends as meat for the grinder. There is clear potential for a fast paced, riotous carnage of bullet-strewn rotting flesh, with a man’s gradual slip into madness as a centrepiece. I’m thinking Night Of the Living Dead meets the overkill of Braindead with a narrative injection from Tales Of The Black Freighter.
Sadly, John Geddes takes Exit Humanity in completely the opposite direction. I assume he wanted to avoid schlock, so instead attempts a supposedly serious story about loss and revenge. However, the lack of narrative subtlety, acting prowess and ever present hackneyed dialogue turns a painfully earnest attempt at depth into a cringe-worthy display of incompetence.
I’m probably being overly harsh when I condemn Exit Humanity to the ignominious fate of countless zombie fuck-ups mercifully hidden by the passage of time. But it really gets my goat having to watch a 108min movie that should really be 30-40 mins shorter. Seriously, where the hell was the script editor?! Simple moments of protagonist angst that could be summed up in short, well constructed scenes, are doled out with laborious and repetitive diligence, banging home charactorial emotion with a sledge hammer. Bar his oft-spoken lines of dreary exposition, Mark Gibson’s acting peaks swing between staring forlornly into the distance and periodically screaming his head off for no apparent reason.
It doesn’t help that the atmosphere is one of constant, gruelling grimness. And not the good kind, like the sombre futility of The Road. This is spirit-sapping, self-indulgent despair that reduces the protagonist to a whining, po-faced dullard. The inclusion of a rebel militia led by the villainous General Williams (Bill Moseley) breaks the tedium somewhat, but that plot line inevitably returns to the disappointing path of predictability. And as for the way Exit Humanity is shot… all I can say is track and dolly beat steadicam every time. Lose half the cast and axe some locations if you have to, just don’t scrimp on the camera work: it’s the first sign of a low budget piece of toss.
The one redeeming feature to Exit Humanity are the occasional forays into animation. I have to say, these were visually great, allowing scenes beyond a live action budget to play out, while showing some real artistic flair. Probably the one part Geddes didn’t have creative control over…
Exit Humanity ultimately fails to raise a pulse with its handling of both Western and zombie elements. Long winded, unnecessarily angst-ridden and executed with a clear lack of directorial flair, Exit Humanity is best left forgotten. I think I’ll be watching Zombie Flesh Eaters tonight, just to restore some personal faith in the genre.