In recent times the once hallowed zombie film has been suffering from a lack of quality control, with anybody who has more than a tenner and a video camera in their possession trying their hand at creating the next splatter masterpiece. The trouble is that most of the time these people miss the point when it comes to re-creating the glory days of the Romero/Savini creative axis. Sure, those films had gore and violence but these were mere symptoms of the story and the real crux of the narrative was what was happening outside of the zombie attacks.
Looking at the zombie apocalypse from a different angle, Exit Humanity is a low-budget film that sidesteps the ‘apocalyptic future’ setting that many film makers go for and sets its story during the fallout of the American Civil War, where the dead have started to return to life. Edward Young (Mark Gibson) is a soldier returning from the war who discovers his wife has been turned into one of the walking dead and his young son has gone missing. Embarking on a journey to find his son, Edward crosses the war-torn countryside in a desperate struggle for survival not only against the marauding zombies but also against the insane General Williams (Bill Moseley), who believes there is a cure for the zombie infection.
The first thing that must be noted about Exit Humanity is how fantastic it looks. Despite only costing around $300, 000 there is a quality feel to the film and the cinematography is superb, showing off the beautiful settings in a similar way to many Australian films that are set in the Outback, catching the colourful sunsets and wide, expansive backgrounds. Director John Geddes also uses animation as exposition to link up some of the scenes where the restrictions of the budget didn’t allow what could possibly have been some pretty interesting set pieces, and it all feels like it fits rather than being tacked on afterwards. The zombies themselves are pretty creepy looking, going for the basic pale-skin-with-dark-features look in a less-is-more approach but never looking cheap or ineffective.
The performances are all good. Bill Moseley does his scarily intense bad-guy act as only he can, keeping it under control but still threatening to bring it all out at any given moment, and newcomer Mark Gibson also puts in a solid performance as man who has lost everything and lives his life on a knife-edge. There are also appearances from Dee Wallace, Brian Cox and Stephen McHattie for a bit of extra weight.
Comparable to the African-shot Ford Brothers’ film The Dead in terms of its serious tone and deliberately slow pacing, Exit Humanity isn’t a film for everybody. Indeed, if the adrenaline rush of the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, the video game-based action of Resident Evil or the washed-out, grimy feel of 28 Days Later gets you all excited for some intense, gory zombie gut-crunching then you’ll be sorely disappointed here. If, however, you prefer the character development of Romero’s original Day of the Dead or the isolation of the Vincent Price classic The Last Man On Earth then Exit Humanity could well be something you’ll get a lot out of. And just think – if John Geddes can make a film made for less than half a million dollars look as good as this imagine what the man could do with ten times the budget. Let’s hope we get to find out.