Sunday, November 29, 2015

Film Review: Extinction (2015)

     Copyright: Vertical Entertainment
The best way to describe the movie Extinction is to perceive it as a weird dream about a script about a time after a zombie apocalypse. The film opens in the present time, where an outbreak of some kind transformed patients into rabid killers, brought the army onto the streets and people were being evacuated to the protected zones.

Two friends, Patrick and Jack, along with a pregnant woman, try to reach safety. A decade later, society has fallen apart and the world has entered a new ice age (for whatever reason), most are dead, but Jack and Patrick are neighbors, living apparently secure lives while one of them is also raising a child, the nine-year-old Lu.

But, here’s the twist – the two men are not communicating with each other in any way, even though only a road separates the two houses.

The twist-based approach isn’t something new in zombie films. Ever since The Walking Dead revived the interest in the genre and started the latest zombie craze, there have been numerous films trying to find a fresh angle from which they can present the same theme. One of the latest ones was Maggie, which relatively successfully went for the father-daughter family drama as the main cornerstone of the plot.

Extinction and its director Miguel Ángel Vivas went for the mystery of a broken relationship between two friends, which obviously had to be something huge if it managed to overshadow the death of the human civilization. Vivas, who previously worked on a home-invasion thriller called Kidnapped, placed a lot of attention to the characters and their state of mind. This is why almost half of the film passes while we see how Jack is a caring father to Lu while Patrick gradually goes insane. Flashbacks examine their relationship and slowly move to the present point.

But, Vivas had to use some horror elements as well, so in one moment, additional survivors and new infected mutants come onto the stage. From then on, the film switches gears into the standard under-siege flick, dispersing almost all potential about the two main characters the director tried to build. Both Matthew Fox and Jeffrey Donovan present solid characters, but their acting stop being important in that point.

As the action unravels, the film goes full bore into the action-survival mode, which doesn’t really leave a lasting impression mainly because the entire film (both houses and the small surrounding area outside) looks like a giant sound stage with plenty of fake snow. In this environment, the panic, fear, and the confusion, in my opinion, just don’t connect that well with the audience.

Like a dream of the zombie movie, Extinction dares to innovate but lacks the cognitive effort needed to make whole the different random parts it tries to encompass.

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