It All Happens In The Dark

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DEAD doesn’t deliver

The Dead Outside (2008)

Here, we have a very by-the-numbers affairs with an uninspired script and all of the usual hiding-away-in-the-country-to-escape-a-pandemic banalities. The acting veers from credible to frustrating, and some of the camerawork is quite pretty and fittingly bluesy, while at other times it looks rather flat and amateurish. We can only see so many shots of something stuck on a barbwire fence blowing in the wind before it goes from OOOOOOOH, PRETTY! to OOOOOOH, AGAIN?

This film, sadly, does nothing new, tries nothing new and really isn’t worth a viewing. The great thing about independent films, when utilized, is because they are made on such a small budget, by usually a tight-knit group of people who have developed the story and know it inside and out – is that they can get away with so much more, try so many new things, push the envelope and not have to answer to anyone who is funding it. So affairs like this, where it is the same old song and dance, irk me perhaps more than they should, because there is so much possibility, so few constraints, and while yes, I understand you don’t have big effects or seasoned actors, you can in theory do almost anything you want – take risks, be bold. But no, here we have a film that had such promise and totally shirked it to give us cliché after cliché.

I kept expecting something – some development, some twist, anything! – that would knock my socks off, shake it all up and really go for the Jugular. Or even just ONE scene that was FINALLY something I had not seen before. It never happens. I did enjoy that they kept vague the details of the virus and that we only knew as much about it as we got from the discussions the characters had with each other. While I did like that approach now I wonder if it wasn’t just lazy writing, the script not wanting to have to strictly define itself or establish solid rules to play by.

There are several flashbacks here which are oddly filmed and ill-placed – at times I had trouble telling if what I was seeing was supposed to be happening now or was in fact the recollection of a character.

So, the story – as it is – has a man in his car driving and he runs out of gas. He is escaping something we surmise. An opening screen tells us this is so many days after the initial outbreak – honestly, I don’t think the screenwriters took too much time developing this, so I’m not going to spend more time on it than they did, by going back and finding out the exact amount of time. My apologies, readers. So the unfortunate motorist happens upon a farm which at first appears deserted but he soon finds is inhabited by a very moody young woman who has no problem shooting trespassers dead. Only she doesn’t shoot him. And she doesn’t want him to stay. Only, she lets him spend the night, feeds him the next day and decides after she gives him gas and he is almost attacked – why am I such a flinty broad? Come on in and set up camp! They seem to develop a kind of tenuous understanding and amidst quite a lot of bickering form a fragile bond. Well, another interloper is about to show up, and the attacks upon the house by the raving insane are increasing. That is another thing the film doesn’t really address – are these zombies? Just unlucky infected? What are they after? Blood? Brains? Winning lottery numbers?

This script is just Frankensteined bits from better films – I’m all about paying homage to your influences but try to make something influencial yourself. There was real potential here – this film could have been a stellar and devastating affair, but is instead just a barely there xerox. C

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