Festival of the Living Dead Poster

Festival of the Living Dead (2024) Review

Festival of the Living Dead is not only the latest Tubi Original, it’s the latest film from Jen and Sylvia Soska (See No Evil 2, Rabid). That’s a bit of a come down for the sisters, who, after Dead Hooker in a Trunk and American Mary, were loudly proclaimed to be the future of horror. Dave Parker, who was in the same position some years back, recently used a Tubi Original, You Shouldn’t Have Let Me In to prove he can still make an entertaining film. Can the Soska Sisters do the same?

Ash (Ashley Moore, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) and Iris (Camren Bicondova, Battlefield America, Girl House) are looking to do something to celebrate Ash’s birthday. Her boyfriend Kevin (Gage Marsh, It Lives Inside, Calamity Jane) and some friends stop by with a birthday present, tickets to the Festival of the Living Dead.

The festival is a Burning Man type event held to celebrate humanity’s defeat of the zombie outbreak of 1968. It will come as no surprise that history repeats itself and the dead rise at the festival, leaving Ash to find a way to survive and find Luke (Shiloh O’Reilly, Thanksgiving, Christmas with a Kiss), the little brother she was supposed to be babysitting but who is also at the festival thanks to a plot device that redefines stupid.

Festival of the Living Dead 3

Not only did the events of Night of the Living Dead actually happen, the filmmakers are so desperate to tie Festival of the Living Dead to Romero’s film that Ash and Luke are Ben’s grandchildren. Now, I don’t remember Ben mentioning a family during the movie, and he certainly didn’t start one afterwards, so I have my doubts about that. There’s also the little matter of having to forget Romero’s own sequels to buy into this timeline, but zombie fans should be used to that by now.

To be fair, I can’t blame the Soska’s for the script, the blame for that falls on Miriam Lyapin and Helen Marsh (Obsessed with the Babysitter, Deadly Midwife). Their approach seems to have been to whip up some generic young adult characters and then have them do the stupidest, and shittiest thing possible in any given situation. For example, after wrecking his SUV Kevin, Ash and Ty (Andre Anthony, Scream VI, Guess Who) hike to the festival to get help for their injured friends. Once there, they forget about their friends, do shrooms, and head for the main stage.

Festival of the Living Dead 1

Once the living dead start attacking the festival crowd, all twenty or so of them, Festival of the Living Dead does manage to work up a few decent moments of bloodshed. But it’s mostly a lot of people stumbling around, screaming, and trying to avoid what may be the least exciting vehicle pileup in cinematic history. I get that being a Tubi Original they didn’t have much of a budget, but a few more extras and a bit better action choreography would have gone a long way here.

But that’s still better than the scene where, while trying to stealthily creep around and avoid the living dead, Ash launches into a self-righteous monologue about the benefits of selling out your beliefs for popularity. As a protagonist, she’s as unlikable as it gets. Apart from Luke whose barely on screen, Iris and her friend Blaze (Christian Rose, Out of My Mind, Fitting In) are the only two characters I didn’t want to become zombie chow.

Festival of the Living Dead 2

Considering how many bad zombies at a rave films there are, Festival of the Dead should have had an easy time becoming the living dead at a concert film. Instead, it ends not quite at the bottom of the heap, but still lagging behind the likes of Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave. It’s just one long string of misfires and wasted opportunities. Cinematographer Tony Mirza (Grave Encounters, 50 States of Fright) gets some atmospheric shots of the foggy woods, but that’s about all the film has going for it.

If Festival of the Living Dead is the best they can do, it’s time for Jen and Sylvia to seriously considering retirement. The fact that this was apparently the only project they were offered, or could get off the ground, just seems to confirm it.

Festival of the Dead is available on Tubi in the US, but not in Canada. I’m not sure about the other countries where Tubi is available.

YouTube video
Our Score
Scroll to Top