When some college students get together for a hot tub party, they’re shocked to find out that their party is being crashed by some tiny, uninvited guests who are hungry for flesh – human flesh.
I’m going to try my very damnedest not to hate on “Midget Zombie Takeover” as much as it deserves. The staggering amount of cinematic undead offerings as of late has all but pummelled my fellow HorrorNews reviewers into submission and early retirement. I always considered myself fairly lucky, as I’ve had the pleasure of a few unknown gems (“Mulberry Street” and “Overtime”) in my mix, and even the trash (“Biker Zombies from Detroit”) was nothing if not entertaining. Today, I can state that I officially feel the pain of my comrades. Man, do I feel it.
Made for $2,000 and looking every cent of it, “MZT” almost defies heavy criticism, like a wannabe modern day beatnick’s terrible poetry at a coffee house open mic night. As much as you want to rip the guy’s prose a new one, he did his thing and no one was harmed in the process, so what the hell? This is what tears me here, because my review ends at the conclusion of this sentence without the employment of several cruel words.
Amanda, her parents having left town for the weekend, decides to invite her friends over for a party. So far, so predictable. We are then subjected to an endless montage of blandly likable young adults filing out onto Amanda’s back deck, as staged conversations around a hot tub lead absolutely nowhere (more specifically, they lead to an airless desert in the middle of nowhere), and I suspect may have not even been scripted. Unwanted guest Billy (Matt “Goose” Goosherst) provides the only levity, wandering aimlessly in the background, a hot dog sticking out of his mouth. As Amanda, Kristi McKay is serviceable enough for the lead role, though it’s a purely amateur performance, as are all the rest. Plus, depending on the lighting she looks either twenty years old, or fifty. I’m not going to lie, it gave me the creeps.
During an excruciating game of badminton, the shuttlec**k is lost over the fence. The drunken next door neighbor (Jonathan Hodges) warns them that they are all doomed, explaining it matter-of-factly to the kids as if he’s stating a widely known truth. It’s a rare amusing moment, the term “shuttlec**k” played with in childishly clever fashion. When asked for its return, the neighbor proclaims, “The c**k can’t save you!” Having never advanced my sense of humor past the fifth grade level, that line made me chortle.
Shortly after that incident and during a conversation about which board game they should play that terrified me with the thought of watching these people babble over Sorry!, our first mini-zombie makes an appearance. Portrayed by children (nice touch) in make-up that I must say I didn’t hate, these are the slow, shambling garden variety living dead, though much smaller than usual. They are so painfully lethargic, they somehow manage to drag the pace even further down once onscreen. I honestly wouldn’t have thought that possible until it happened before my very eyes.
After buddy Randy (Cody Strack) is attacked and more zombies arrive on the property, the others lock themselves up in the house. The cable is out and no one can get cell reception, so they are cut off from the outside world. What transpires is a series of one or two of the group wandering away, getting picked off by the undead, and the others running back down to the basement to hide until the next moron comes up with a reason to saunter off and die. Over and over and over again. To call it maddening is an understatement.
There are a few instances that break up the repetition, one of which entails Tony and Maggie (Jayson L. Hicks, Kedryn Carpenter) sneaking upstairs to have sex. Yes, a tame, skinless doink scene is a highlight here. Their dirty talk begins with the usual white people precoital exchange, then slowly builds to a near-hilarious Harlequin romance novel crescendo of silliness. Also bordering on amusing is when the group decides they have to mercy kill Molly (Cassandra Crawford), who has been bitten by one of the tiny brood and is starting to show signs of the undead. How do they accomplish this daunting task? Billy sits on her face to suffocate her, of course. Leaden as they are, you at least have to afford a little credit to the attempts at humor.
Is there any reason to bother expounding upon the overall production values, or in this case, lack thereof? I’m fairly confident my teen nephew and his gaggle of goofy pals could have put together a more professional looking product with their smart phones. Writer/director Glenn Berggoetz and his production company, Driving With Our Eyes Shut, have been at this hard and heavy for the past few years (this is their sixth full length film), but you’d never believe there were four seconds of experience behind “MZT.” I sincerely hope everyone involved had a good time making it, because I certainly did not in the watching.
As I’d stated, I feel like I’m beating up a cripple here by writing this review, but it had to be done. After screening “Manborg,” a movie which takes pocket change and creates a truly original work in both concept and execution, my tolerance for lazy effort is waning. It isn’t enough to want to make a movie, as “Midget Zombie Takeover” proves with ineptitude to spare. One must want to create a story, a vision. That, or pile on the gore and nudity by the bucket load. Never do neither.
Midget Zombie Takeover (2013)