As always: **This review is relatively spoiler free**
When a movie comes down the pipeline that’s described as “JURASSIC WORLD meets ‘The Walking Dead’” it’s hard not to get at least a little bit excited. The sheer concept of combining those two things leads to more questions than answers and that, more than anything, was the initial charm of this film. Going into it, I had my fingers crossed hoping, no, praying that I would get to see a zombified velociraptor and while that particular desire of mine wasn’t met, THE REZORT was one hell of a good time and, overall, a really solid film.
I have a fairly intimate history with zombie horror. One of the earliest things I remember being afraid of was George A. Romero’s original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The concept of the undead terrified me and even tongue-in-cheek, humorous variations on the genre (namely “My Zombie Lover” from the “Monsters” TV Series) proved too much for my innocent childhood heart to handle. However, fairly quickly that fear turned into a sort of morbid fascination. Before I knew it, I found myself devouring every piece of undead horror I possibly could get my hands on. From well-regarded classics like Fulci’s ZOMBI to schlock trashterpieces like SARS WARS and THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED UP ZOMBIES; I couldn’t get enough. Understandably, after a while, things grew stale, however THE REZORT introduced something into the genre that I never even knew I wanted: Insufferable rich people on vacation.
I know, it seems ridiculous, but adding characters that one simply cannot stand make for quite the entertaining film when you’re privy to watching them get torn apart by ravenous hordes of flesh eating monsters. 2004’s DAWN OF THE DEAD remake touched on the concept with the inclusion of Ty Burrell as “Steve.” Watching him get bit, turn, and get shot was one of the high points of DAWN’s third act. Well, thanks to the folks behind THE REZORT, we lucky viewers have an island literally full of Steves.
THE REZORT tells the story of a deluxe island getaway where the (presumably) inconceivably rich are able to hunt the undead in the wake of a devastating outbreak. Zombies (or “Zees” as they’re called for some reason) have become a part of life. People know how to dispose of them and, in the event a rogue zombie wanders into folks’ everyday lives, there are task forces in place to quickly dispose of them.
The latest craze is the “Zafari”, or “Zombie Safari,” in which paying customers are taken to a secluded and remote location and allowed to “hunt” Zombies “in the wild.” Patrons flock to these establishments seeking the “ultimate blood sport experience” and using these excursions to get therapeutic revenge for the losses incurred during the initial outbreak.
Behind the scenes however, and unbeknownst to the guests, these “Zafari” experiences are highly controlled. The zombies are kept under close watch and at a safe shooting distance at all times. No one is ever in danger and nothing is left to chance.
As one would expect from a film billed as “JURRASIC WORLD meets ‘The Walking Dead’”, things go horribly wrong. And suddenly our weekend “big game hunters” find themselves in quite the serious predicament. The “Zees” on the Rezort outnumber guests and staff 10 to 1 and many of them are feeling mighty peckish.
From fairly early on, I found myself completely engrossed in the goings on of THE REZORT. The story has marvelous pacing and very rarely did I feel as though I was “nudging along” the action of the film.
The characters, for the most part (aside from our “Final Girl”), are relatively unbearable in the best of ways. We’re given a writhing sea of self-important, insufferable humans to hate and all of them provide stellar performances making it quite easy to do so. From the Ed Hardy-clad frat boys to the mildly-rapey wannabe sharpshooter, each of these characters provide enough eye rolls to make one root for the zombies and applaud when they win. Despite being awful, each character proves to be three-dimensional enough to be fairly believable, which was refreshing, to say the least.
Cinematically, it has a lot going on. While some of the camera work and scene composition was a tad clunky, the majority of it was well done and well put together. The zombie hordes were some of the largest I can recall seeing on screen and were only made larger thanks to some wonderful aerial shots.
One of my favorite parts of THE REZORT, though minor, was their explanation for how zombies move and act. Over the years, we’ve seen fast zombies, slow zombies, and some in-between and THE REZORT manages to combine them all (flawlessly, I might add) with one, simple concept, “The fresher they are, the faster they are.” This simple statement provided the framework for a rotating cast of undead not typically seen and absolutely delighted me.
When working in a genre so often visited, revisited, and visited again, the devil is in the details and it was absolutely thrilling to see that THE REZORT paid attention to so many of them.
All in all, THE REZORT is a really enjoyable and entertaining zombie flick. Despite its very minor weak points, the film does a wonderful job at adding juicy fresh flesh to the often overloaded zombie horror genre. And, most importantly, provides one hell of a fun ride to those that choose to clamber aboard.
A wide release date for THE REZORT, at this point, is not known. Having recently come from a (fairly successful) run at FrightFest 2016, we can only hope this indie darling finds its way to cinema screens everywhere.
Until it does, it may not be a bad idea to brush up on your zombie self-defense tactics. You never know when they may come in handy.
4 of 5 Good Guys are packing their bags to head off for a bit of target practice at THE REZORT.