Posted on February 7, 2008 by Monica Valentinelli
Film by Newbeat/ Head Trauma
Independent films often struggle with their ability to attain audiences and garner recognition. I like to think that some of these lesser-known films are self-aware, either stretching their boundaries to be a “great” film, or toying with conventional filmmaking to experiment with the media.
“Better off Undead” is definitely an experimental horror film, on several levels. The script will alienate quite a few, potential audience members as it is rife with cursing. In this case, the swearing fits the characters, a trio of college students named Marcus, Chris and Evan, but could have been toned down a bit if their goal was to attract a broader audience. I felt that the plot was pretty appropriate for this short-length film and the actors knew it too. Three college students, each one with their own personality quirks, try to get to safety.
The strongest element in this 29 minute film was the way it was filmed. Done in a very clean style, the cinematography was fresh and modern, perfect for a zombie film that happens in the daytime. Makeup and zombie effects were admirable, given that this is a low-budget film, and when combined with a well-thought-out soundtrack enhanced the feel of the film.
The tone of this short film is somewhat sarcastic and hard to pinpoint, primarily because the pacing is off. A long opening sequence coupled with dry, “decision-making” points where the trio contemplated “what-to-do” slowed down the film in spots. This technique might have worked for a longer film, but when you only have half an hour to play with, you don’t have a lot of time to work out the finer details – like where the zombies came from or how to keep and build a horror mood.
Packaged professionally with bonus features similar to what you’d see in a mainstream film, I give this product an “A” for effort, even though there are weak elements to the film as I had previously discussed. For more information on Better Off Undead visit their MySpace page at: www.myspace.com/better_off_undead.
Review by Monica Valentinelli