Forays into history and twisting the events found therein and giving them a horror slant is becoming incredibly popular. Author Seth Grahame- Smith leads the charge with such projects as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; and his latest work Unholy Night, which is set to put a horror spin on the biblical tale of the Three Wise Men…
Undoubtedly armed with the knowledge that I love historical horror romps, zombies and post-apocalyptica, Andy furnished me with a shiny review copy of Exit Humanity.
“Exit Humanity is a story told through the written and illustrated journal of Edward Young as he battles his way through an unexplainable outbreak of the walking dead.
Set a decade after the American Civil War, Edward returns home from a hunting trip to find a horrific re-animation of his wife Julia, and that their son Adam has disappeared. Edward starts to record his experiences amongst the living dead that has torn his family apart, and threatens all of mankind.
Throughout his harrowing journey Edward finds friendship, guidance and love amongst chaos and despair, when all else seems to be lost in a world robbed of its humanity.”
I have to admit, I’m always incredibly suspicious when Andy hands over a disc with very little preamble. He has after all inflicted both Wild Country and Descendents. So, warily, I started to watch Exit Humanity and was almost immediately impressed when I was greeted by a narrative from Brian Cox (Braveheart, The Ring, Troy, Manhunter) and a brief battle scene from the American Civil War, with the addition of the undead!
As opposed to many zombie/infected films, Exit Humanity does not rely on gore or flesh-rending scenes to pad out proceedings. In fact, Exit Humanity is very much about the lead character Edward Young and how he copes with the bleak events which he faces. Relative newcomer Mark Gibson (Monster Brawl, Psych) delivers a believable performance as Young and is ably supported throughout by Adam Seybold and Jordan Hayes (Nostrum, 2012’s House at the end of the Street); and surprisingly, by horror regulars such as Bill Moseley as the maniacal General Williams (The Devil’s Rejects, Army of Darkness, House of 1000 Corpses), Stephen McHattie (A Little Bit Zombie, Watchmen, Red: Werewolf Hunter) and a turn from an almost unrecognisable Dee Wallace (The Howling, Cujo, Critters) who gives proceedings greater depth with her expository role.
There were points during proceedings when this film could have veered off the precipice and become a straightforward action-horror. However, writer and director John Geddes has created something special with Exit Humanity and manages to marry up the performances of his actors, an appropriate score, quality special effects by The Brothers Gore (Jeff & Jason Derushie) and bleak, bleached footage perfectly to create an atmosphere that are absent from much larger projects, never mind a small independent film.
At times, I was reminded of a number of different films, most notably The Outlaw Josey Wales. This may seem strange but I submit to you that Exit Humanity and Josey Wales both have as their central characters hardy men who are haunted by the events of their past and Exit Humanity does indeed have a kind of Western vibe to it.
I loved Exit Humanity. It is an ambitious horror tale that does an incredible amount with a very modest budget. However, it won’t be for everyone. I suspect that fans of the zombie sub-genre may be left a little disappointed since the pace of the film is distinctly more relaxed than your average undead/infected flick. Additionally, there are brief interludes of animation which may not fit with the majority’s impression of conventional horror films. To my mind, Exit Humanity dared to be different and pulls it off incredibly well.
Exit Humanity is not only a tremendously powerful horror film; but simply a tremendous film that is rendered all the more impressive when factoring in that it is an independent production.
Exit Humanity is released on DVD in North America on June 19th and in the UK on July 2nd via Metrodome.