Review: ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN (2019)
Zombie With A Shotgun is a feature-length adaptation of writer/director Hilton Ariel Ruiz’s web series and comic of the same name. I remember seeing some of the early announcements for this film, and I’m pretty sure I retweeted a few on my personal account. So when I noticed it was available to stream, I had to check it out.
Zombie With A Shotgun opens with just that. We see a rotting zombie holding a shotgun and waiting to ambush somebody as sirens go off in the distance. Then we go back in time by six months. Three guys trail a woman into a friend’s apartment. One of them rapes the girl they were following while they talk about both of the women’s connection to some guy. One of the girls flees down the stairs.
And suddenly we’re in a car with Aaron (Braeden Baade, Excess Flesh) and Rachael (Kathryn Kuhn). He’s apparently infected with a virus and on the run to avoid being placed in a containment facility. The backstory is filled in via flashbacks and dream sequences. Betrayed and with the infection starting to show itself. They find themselves caught in a web of industrial-grade greed, evil and corruption.
Zombie With A Shotgun has some big ideas and interesting ones, but lack of budget hurts it badly. For most of the film, there’s only one agent chasing our heroes. And despite being set in NYC, we keep seeing the same two cops turn up, which strains credibility. There’s also a distinct lack of zombies, despite frequent mentions of the virus spreading rapidly. There are also multiple close-range shotgun blasts that don’t even cause blood splatter.
Worst of all, what should have been a gruesomely enjoyable showdown between Aaron and the three goons from the film’s beginning is mostly rendered as comic book style animation. I’d have loved to have seen him dishing out revenge with a skull and spinal column as a weapon.
I’m also not exactly sure why Aaron has flashbacks of some kind of voodoo or black magic ceremony. We’re told this is all the result of experiments. I’m guessing that was being held out for a sequel. Or maybe finding it out is one of the plot threads of the Zombie With A Shotgun comics.
This feels like the origin story for a series of films to go with the comics. But from what I’ve seen of them, that would take a fairly large budget to pull off properly. Unfortunately, given the budget Zombie With A Shotgun had, and the results it bought, the property may be better off staying on the printed page where budgets are less of an issue.