FanTasia 2010: The Neighbor Zombie
You would think that in the relatively short time we have had the zombie genre that with the tremendous outpouring of projects we would have it covered. There couldn't possibly be anything else to add to the genre, right? With so many films would the genre come at risk of growing stale and pungent as the rotting flesh on the screen?
Yet, somehow, by holy miracle, a group of four filmmakers in Korea gathered a few scraps of loose change and made an anthology film that manages to explore new perspectives. One cannot help but slap themselves on the forehead for not thinking of them first.
The premise of the film is simple enough. A doctor in South Korea believes he has created the cure for AIDS. He is pressured to release the vaccine before it can be properly tested it is not until a few months later that a worldwide zombie outbreak has been caused by this vaccine. This of course hits home with the recent H1N1 outbreak and the rush to get vaccinated for that. We're still waiting for those folks to turn, shotguns at our sides. But rather than go all post apocalyptic on our asses and spurn another debate about slow and fast zombies The Neighbor Zombie decidedly looks closer to home.
Thus the film explores human reaction to the outbreak, in some ways I have never seen before. It actually brings fresh ideas to the table. The Neighbor Zombie takes advantage of the anthology structure to tell short, smart stories. However fresh the ideas are in the film this format suits them best as they probably couldn't be sustained singularly in a feature.
You start with the social recluse who gets bitten by something under his bed and slowly begins to change. There is the couple that try to keep their love alive though one of them is a zombie. And what is a girl to do when she cannot go out to get meat for her turned mother? Of course, when there is a cure for the cure, there is a power struggle and those with nefarious intentions are out to make money off the suffering of others. And finally, and this is where the film really comes out unique and fresh, treating the zombie plague as just that, a disease, what do you do once you've been cured but you're still haunted by your memories. Really? Has no one ever thought to explore this idea before? Sure, you have to give yourself a way out of being a zombie by making it a plague that can be cured and not an apocryphal pandemic of the living dead. But damn.
What The Neighbor Zombie lacks in budget and polish it more than makes up for with fresh ideas and complete entertainment throughout. The meagreness of the budget is evident. The scale of the film is small, mostly taking place in small rooms, but that also keeps the stories all the more personal and intimate instead of being lost in a charging horde of flesh eaters. The one chapter that does feature a lengthy bit of action and fighting could have been better
technically in regards to framing and lighting but it still managed to impress. If I recall correctly the filmmakers made this film for about $15,000 which is a testament to their creativity and determination. That alone deserves sincere recognition. The Neighbor Zombie works because of their tremendous creativity.