Eaters is a new Italian zombie movie from two first time directors which takes all the traditional elements of the genre and attempts to combine style and action with a deeper religious and philosophical message.
Oh, and did I mention its produced by Uwe Boll.
Now before your mouse leaps to close this page at the mere mention of the man behind such monstrosities as House of the Dead, BloodRayne and a myriad of other video game adaptations and ‘straight to DVD’ bargain bin bodge-jobs, remember its only ‘produced’ by Uwe Boll. And apart from fronting the money and perhaps sending a memo to the directors which said “make sure to have lots of gun fights, gore and Nazi’s” evidence of his involvement seems thankfully invisible.
As mentioned Eaters: Rise Of The Dead, to give it its full title, ambitiously tries to mix up blood and gore with a proper plot, and some real characterisation – a set of words Uwe Boll seems to lack in his very limited cinematic vocabulary.
As we discover in the excellently executed news footage opening, The Great Epidemic has devastated the globe turning its population into flesh eating undead monsters all because of a virus let lose by an anonymous and insane terrorist called the Plague Spreader.
As the world descends into chaos it is left to the lone survivors to try and carry on forming tight groups in order to survive. One such group contains two comrades in arms Igor (Alex Lucchesi) and Alen (Guglielmo Favilla), who spend their days hunting zombies which they bring back to be experimented on by a scientist named Gyno (Claudio Marmugi), who believes that he can find the cure to control the outbreak.
Roaming the land in search of unfresh meat for Gyno, Igor and Alen drink beer, kill zombies and philosophise while encountering a range of unhinged characters, such as an insane artist who paints zombie still lifes and a gang of neo-Nazis led by a dwarf Fuhrer.
Unbenounced to the pair however, the real danger is much closer to home as Gyno has his own agenda and plans for the virus, which involve Alan’s girlfriend and a disturbing vision of the future made in his own undead image.
Harking back to the early days and the Godfather of the genre, George A. Romero, Eaters intelligently starts off by building the atmosphere and the characters so that we feel something for them and the world they inhabit. Affecting women first the zombie plague has left the male characters alone in a world driven by testosterone and tension, where they are forced to get along with people they do not trust or like.
Igor and Alen are an excellent double act brought to life by the script and the actors who give them a real feel in such an unreal situation. Equally at home providing a much-needed element of dark humour as they are delivering gun-blasting action, much of the movie is spent with them and their musings on the world as it is and was are entertaining and believable.
Sadly for the movie what is unbelievable is the overall storyline, which follows an all too convenient arc linking all the characters and events far too simply over a ridiculously small geographic area – tying up all the lose ends and losing the audience in a suspension of disbelief that is several steps too far.
Made on a low budget, the special effects are reasonably well realised and the undead make-up suitably gross and grim.
As first time directors Luca Boni and Marco Ristori do a solid job, and if anything their failing is an attempt to take on too much.
In contrast to the story which is resolved too easily and completely the cornucopia of themes, which includes fascism, religion, philosophy, and the future of mankind overflows leaving no one area truly covered.
Overall Eaters: Rise Of The Dead is an ambitious project with two solid central performances and packed with ideas which succeeds in some areas and fails in others, perhaps due to the directors over enthusiasm and inexperience.
Don’t be put of by Boll’s name on the box if you like zombie movies. This is well worth a try.
Eaters: Rise Of The Dead