The Cove (2021) Review
My first reaction to The Cove was the zombie apocalypse, sure has changed. It seems like only yesterday that once the dead started walking, survival involved heavy, hard to bite through clothes, staying out of sight, and guns. Big, powerful guns.
As The Cove begins, Cairo Yazid (Garrett Barghash, Adventure Harbor) is casually wandering through deserted Los Angeles in a tank top and lounge pants. He’s saved from a pack of zombies, or Wanderers as they’re called, by Olli (Dana Kippel, Fatal Memory, Midnight Television) who’s wearing a crop top and cargo pants. Neither are armed. Who knew the end of the world would happen on Casual Friday?
A bit less casual is what’s going down between Capt. Solomon (Robert Enriquez) and some pirates. Their leader, Luther (Mike Markoff, Wrong Place, Wrong Time, The Rockville Slayer) wants to know the location of The Cove, a settlement safe from the walking dead. Solomon’s daughter Amber (Elisa Janelle Alpizar, Hell’s Kitty: The Musical) is a resident there and they are determined to make him tell them how to find it.
The Cove gets off to a very low key start. Cairo and Olli mostly talk and occasionally hide from Wanderers. The scene between Solomon and the pirates doesn’t carry any feeling of menace. Even after his partner Lt. Colonel Cook (Phillip Cook, Karate Do, Uncle Ed’s Bucket List) gets the drop on them, they let the two surviving buccaneers walk away, even as they tell Solomon what they’ll do to his daughter when they find her. For some reason, I had problems believing anyone would react like that.
There are also multiple scenes where we see that LA isn’t that deserted. A bus goes under a bridge as Cairo walks over it. We see houses with lights on, quite a few of them actually. Which also raises the question of why he and Olli are living outside rather than in an empty house. This confusion is a running problem throughout The Cove. Writer/director/star Robert Enriquez gives us, among other things, scenes of empty streets, abandoned police cars, and a deserted National Guard base. He also gives us scenes in buildings with electricity, flyovers of military (?) jets and talks about a working refinery. So has society collapsed, or are the pandemic and zombies just a mere annoyance?
Overall, the first third feels like two separate films spliced together. And Eric Roberts’ (Unchained, 7 Deadly Sins) cameo as Luther’s father feels like it came from a third, unrelated, film. He sits in an office, ranting about wearing masks in restaurants and armed revolt while unexplained assassins fight with his security goons.
By the time the two sets of survivors cross paths, it had become obvious to me that The Cove wasn’t going to be an action-packed film. And that it wasn’t even going to be a scary film, either. The Cove seems to want to be a character study along the lines of The Battery with some action scenes thrown in. An examination of how people respond under the worst sort of pressure. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t come together on that level either. Too many scenes, especially between Cairo and Olli, have no dialogue, which makes it hard to learn anything about them. And Cairo’s transformation from someone who literally cries when threatened to a ruthless killer is way too abrupt and unconvincing.
The Cove does have a few nice touches, like the aquatic zombies and the weird luminescent blue water. But that was far from enough to keep me interested. Between a script that seemed confused as to just how ravaged and destroyed society is and distinctly unbelievable characters, I was zoned out well before the Deus Ex Machina ending.
Head Gear Films will release The Cove in the UK and Ireland on April 26th. TriCoast has the US rights, but I haven’t seen a release date announced. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details.