A Night of the Undead (2022) Review
A Night of the Undead, originally titled A Night of the Living Dead, is the latest in a seemingly endless stream of productions to take advantage of the original’s public domain status to remake, Night of the Living Dead 3D, reboot, Rebirth, and even animate, Night of the Animated Dead, the story. Similarly, the film’s jumping off point, that Romero’s film may have been based on real events, is a familiar one, having turned up in films as diverse as Fleasheater and Return of the Living Dead.
We’re introduced to that idea via brief clips of radio personalities and YouTubers discussing whether or not the dead actually walked back in 1968. With the anniversary of the alleged events coming up one group of podcasters, Adam (Mason Johnson), Piper (Brianna Phipps, Robin Hood: The Legend Begins, Collage) and Brady (Denny Kidd) decide to broadcast from the farmhouse where the events supposedly took place. Joined by Brady’s ex Judy (Mckenzie Clay, In the Basement, BOONE: The Vengeance Trail), they set out to find the truth.
Here the viewer is asked to make a major suspension of disbelief. The farmhouse is still standing, is in reasonably good shape and still contains, among other things, Barbara Cooper’s (Tiffanie Guffey) diary. It’s shortly after that the first zombie turns up at the door. Trapped in the house with one of them bitten, the foursome has to put their differences aside if they want to survive.
Writer Tyler Aucoin and co-directors Kenny Scott Guffey and Jake C. Young (Screature, First Draw) use COVID and footage of hazmat-suited figures pursuing a heavily bandaged man to create some initial confusion as to whether A Night of the Undead is about the living dead or virally infected zombies. They resolve the issue via an amusing broadcast by the US President, played by Canadian actor Brandon Ludwig (Zombie Werewolves Attack, Christmas on Mistletoe Lake). Before that however, there’s another funny scene where one of the characters tells a zombie to stay six feet away from them and to get a mask.
Since the film was shot for somewhere around $1,500 Presidential warnings, or actual zombies for that matter, are in short supply. A Night of the Undead tries to make up for it with some interesting ideas and a bit more attention to the characters than usual. Unfortunately, that’s not going to do much for those who aren’t used to microbudget horror. For those who are, there should be enough going on to keep them happy.
One area where the film probably won’t satisfy anyone is its last fifteen or so minutes. A Night of the Undead goes through several false endings before settling for one of the least satisfying resolutions possible. It would have been better if they had ended it shortly after the hour mark, that would still qualify as feature length and have allowed it to go out on a strong and logical endpoint.
A Night of the Undead is well-made from a technical perspective. The camera work and sound are solid if unspectacular. A handful of scenes do look different as if they were shot through some kind of filter, but that’s as fancy as the cinematography gets. Effects are quite limited, but the zombie makeup and infected bites are good.
While it has its flaws, including the pacing and padding issues common to microbudget films, A Night of the Undead is certainly worth a watch for those who enjoy DIY filmmaking. Those with more mainstream tastes, however, may find it a bit too rough around the edges and lacking in production values. It kept me watching and for the most part entertained
After having its theatrical premiere last October, A Night of the Undead will be released by Vipco and Bayview Entertainment on January 31st. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details. You can also check with FilmTagger for more tales of the walking dead.