RJ Bayley Reviews: Astro Zombies
I’ve said it before, but here it seems particularly true, so of course, I’ll say it again: sometimes being different enough is enough, especially when it comes to short films.
It follows very typical found footage formula: teens go and have uninhibited fun in the wild → get lost → succumb to the monsters they ignored the warnings about. However everything about it feels so authentic. It isn’t truly a found footage movie, because the titles introducing the characters seem part of the piece itself, as does the non diegetic music, not just an opening montage. But by breaking this found footage convention, it engineers its authenticity from the outset. This could easily be a music video for a 60s rock band or an excerpt from a retrospective documentary. In fact, the entire film could easily not be defined as a found footage film at all: it could be deemed an experimental music video. And when I consider it to be that, I like it even more. The tone, the atmosphere, even the incredibly sixties name for the titular monsters, the astro zombies, are great, especially for someone who’s been playing a lot of The Deadly Tower of Monsters recently. The astro zombies themselves are also charmingly hokey and low budget, yet also surprisingly effective. They’re clearly illuminated material suspended from a frame suspended from a wire, but the low film quality hides a lot of the details and while you’re aware exactly what they’re made from, they’re also strangely convincing too.
The only downfall here, that stops it getting full marks, is the latter half of the film’s music. Switching from the swinging rock to a doomy electronic score, it’s totally out of place and feels much more eighties than sixties. It’s too jarring and really quite bad. When I watched this originally the sound shorted out on my increasingly ancient laptop and all I got was silence forr the latter half, and it was actually a better film for it. Overall though, it’s top fun.
You can watch the short on Vimeo.