I love indie films, and I love indie filmmakers. I truly do. So, as a public service to all aspiring independent directors, I have one piece of advice: avoid zombies like the plague.
That’s not to say that zombies don’t have a place in film and TV. Naturally, they do! Most of us were baptised in the bloody pool of George Romero movies. We wouldn’t even be horror fans, if not for him! The highest rated show on cable TV, after all, is The Walking Dead. Clearly, there’s an audience for this. But do you know what the highest rated show on network TV has been for the last 3 years? I’ll give you a hint: it also airs on Sundays.
That’s right, it’s the NFL broadcasting Sunday Night Football on NBC. America’s brutal, barbaric, gladiatorial sporting event is the most watched programming on television. So, I ask you this: would you film an independent version of American football on your Sony Handycam, with a budget of $2,000, starring your friends and coworkers, and then proudly broadcast it on the internet, thinking that you’re one viral social media share away from becoming as successful as the NFL?
Of course not.
Even if you’re immensely talented, by attempting to share a space with a juggernaut, you’re bound to get unfairly criticized or compared with something that is out of your league, both in terms of production values, acting talent, and marketing. What you need is a place where you can showcase your skills. Pick a less crowded lane and DOMINATE it.
You know what I want more of?
And you all KNOW that I wish there were more rubber-suited Kaiju flicks out there!
But instead, everywhere I turn, there's another fucking zombie-themed-whatever, mindlessly staggering through the void of the internet, desperately clamoring for some of that sweet man-meat pie.
This brings me to my latest poorly written review: The Z Virus, episode 1.
The Z Virus is a new TV show by the fine folks at ScreenMagic TV. A few months ago, I reviewed another one of their shows, a "Twilight Zone"-inspired Sci Fi anthology show called “The Lost Dimension”. That one was awesome. I loved it! Go watch it now. But now, back to The Z Virus.
Expertly directed by Joey Moran, and produced by Rick Jenkins, this first teaser episode of The Z Virus is a very small taste of what’s to come. It’s just a few minutes long, so you only get the basic set-up; a man, secluded in a bunker for 2 months, loses all radio contact with other survivors of the zombie outbreak. Sick & tired of being cooped up, and with no idea if there are even any more survivors left, he decides to risk his life by leaving the bunker.
The first thing you’ll notice about The Z Virus is the sound editing. It’s superbly atmospheric and really draws you into the world of our lone survivor. At some points, the gun shots are a little off from the muzzle flashes and that will drive you crazy. Otherwise, though, a great job from the sound guy!
The second thing you’ll notice is just how fucking good it looks, for an indie production. These guys at ScreenMagic use really high quality cameras to give you an HD experience. Couple that with some detailed locations and set design, and you have something that looks similar to its big budget counterparts, even though you know it was done on a shoestring.
The last thing you’ll notice is that The Z Virus really doesn’t tell you anything. They keep it sort of open-ended. There’s no narration. No “opening scroll” to explain a convoluted plot. No clunky exposition inserted. Instead, in a really classy move, the filmmaker informs the audience of what’s happening through visual cues and actions. I wish more directors could do that. Top marks for this Joey Moran guy!
Let’s wrap this up. The bottom line is: if you love horror and you REALLY love zombies, and yet somehow you have managed to run out of post-apocalyptic tales in this saturated market, then you should totally watch The Z Virus. Despite it’s meager budget, it’s a good-looking production with good direction. The story can go literally anywhere from here. They’re not basing it on a comic book, or adapting it from a novel. They can do whatever the hell they’d like, and there’s no rabid fanbase to scream about it. So, here’s hoping that The Z Virus will rise up from its derivative roots and transform into something truly unique and innovative!
And if it doesn’t, well, then that’s not my problem. I’ve spoken my piece. The good thing about ScreenMagic TV is that you can do a 7-day Free Trial to figure out if you like their stuff. In addition to these shows, they’ve made dozens of modern-day blaxploitation action flicks, hip-hop documentaries, and urban comedies! Gotta love that.