After a meteor shower strikes Los Angeles, toxic smoke is released across the city causing people to physically change and become violent. A small group of survivors plans to vacate the city by heading to the coast.
I think most horror fans can agree that there is nothing worse than watching a boring horror film. Watching a ‘trashy, campy” horror can be fun and enjoyable in its own way, even just to be dumbfounded by how silly it is. I personally have a soft spot for some outrageously bad horror even for something as simple as sitting down with mates and having a good laugh. Disaster L.A.: The Last Zombie Apocalypse unfortunately is the former, one hell of a boring horror film. It’s definitely not a masterpiece of horror cinema but at the same time it doesn’t step into the ‘so bad it’s good’ territory. There are strong and weak elements in Disaster L.A. but while watching the film I was mostly blasé about the whole damn apocalypse.
Set in Los Angeles, I’m guessing in current day, the film starts with a shot of Earth and meteorites flying towards the planet. It then cuts to a party where a group of friends are doing shots and having a grand ole L.A. time. Disaster L.A. gives us only about 10 minutes to introduce the main characters (there are quite a few) and give us some exposition before the disaster strikes. This is the first problem of the film, with only so little time to get to know each character we can’t really invest in any of them which becomes troublesome later. At the party we are introduced to: the ‘hero’ John (Justin Ray), (who on a positive note is quite charismatic as the lead), his loud-mouth obnoxious brother (Jerod Meagher), and John’s ex girlfriend and her new boyfriend (who is the ultimate stereotype of a douche bag saying things like “you know who talks like that your mother who I had sex with last night”). After meeting some of John’s other friends John then passes out, wakes up the next day and discovers L.A. is in chaos, the meteorites have crashed and are turning people into zombies. He then bands together with his friends to survive the L.A. apocalypse. A zombie story as old as time.
The film has little humour through out and at each death we get heavy drama from the characters with a lot of crying and screams of “NOOOOO”. The acting in these parts though is surprisingly strong but because we barely know who these people are it is extremely hard to sympathize with their pain. Some humour would have been nice, I mean people turning into zombies from breathing the fumes from meteorites is just a tiny bit silly and some laughs would have broken up the monotony. Another problem with the film is that we’ve seen this storyline a million times before with cliched scenes like characters ‘staying back’ to fight the zombies and sacrifice themselves (this happened THREE times in the film).
However it wasn’t ALL negative. For a low budget ‘end of the world’ film the special effects were quite impressive. Disaster L.A. cut many times to large landscape shots showing an empty L.A., with smoke and destroyed skyscrapers covering the city. The CG effects for these shots were strong enough to suspend disbelief which was a nice touch. Yet there were odd moments when the director didn’t tie together the action on screen and the CG used later, for example at least three times you saw characters smash car windows to get inside only to have them sit inside like there wasn’t glass still on the seat and in reality it would be cutting into their butts. Continuity is important to remember people (even if I am nit-picking)! The zombie’s make-up was top notch, with some horrific looking creatures (even though one or two did remind me of the vampires from Buffy). I also did enjoy the ending which was fittingly depressing like the rest of the film and there were some nice death scenes throughout.
It seems like Disaster L.A. has most of the ingredients for a zombie apocalypse film but that doesn’t make it a good film. Due to a lack of originality and too little investment in the characters it is a difficult film to engage with. Disaster L.A. takes nearly all of its parts from other better zombie/disaster films which you should probably go and check out instead.