Tuesday, July 3, 2012

REVIEW: Exit Humanity

Exit Humanity
Director: John Geddes
Year 2011
Exit Humanity is a fantastic zombie film that takes a more personal approach to the outbreak of rising corpses as it shows what happens to a man after he loses everything that is important to him. Set in the brutal past and juxtaposed against the tension-filled moments that followed the American Civil War, the film relishes in the parallels of human regression with the loss of morality during wartime and the prejudice that is born when man doesn’t see eye to eye. With a tone and approach that is as serious as a heart attack, the film relies on its overwhelming atmosphere and excruciatingly emotional story to paint a horrific and bloody painting of survival and redemption amongst the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. Lovers of thought-provoking zombie tales take notice, because this one is a winner.
The film is culled from the writings of a man named Edward Young, an ex soldier who after surviving the harsh and visceral battlefields of the Civil War, is faced with a new and more frightening situation in the form of the walking dead. After his family succumbs to the zombie plague, Edward sets out on his own in order to cast his son’s ashes, but gets unexpectedly swept up in a twisted set of situations that awaken his true calling and destiny in life. Like a cold and calculating bringer of death, Edward destroys any zombie he sets his eyes on, that is until he runs into a few survivors that begin to instill in him a new sense of hope and meaning, which could possibly bring him back from the brink and into a new world of promise. Exit Humanity is a story of love and humanity lost, but within the ashes of this broken world there is a glimmer of hope that begs the question, can we start over and not make the same mistakes?

Mark Gibson plays the role of Edward Young, the emotionally battered and broken young man who finds himself all alone in a world overrun by the undead. With this demanding character, Gibson was issued a great challenge in carrying much of the first half of the film’s weight, seeing that it focuses solely on his struggles in coming to terms with losing his wife and son. Gibson does a tremendous job with the material and you can see the sense of loss in his eyes as he struggles with all that is happening around him. The beginning portions of the film have him emotionally irate and devastated as he tackles the death of his family, while the middle portions of the film have him interacting with fellow survivors, giving his character a much needed sense of life and purpose, which was lacking in the opening sections of the movie. Once the third act sets in, he drastically changes back to the savage and emotionally strained man that we are first introduced to, but this time the portrayal that Gibson has on display is much more at peace with himself, making for an unsettling character turn that truly seems void of compassion and sympathy. This of course happens with good reason, and the savage act that sets him into this hate-filled stupor is the catalyst that brings this film to a climactic end. Gibson does remarkable work with this character and he handles the ups and downs that the role demands with immense skill and heralded compassion.
As with most well developed zombie films, the cast for this film is both diverse and saturated with interesting characters, giving a tasty variety for the flesh eating ghouls to possibly feast on. First off we have Adam Seybold who plays Isaac, a random stranger that Edward comes into contact with early on in the film and becomes trusted friends with. As a fairly unknown actor, Seybold does a great job with the role and makes his character quite endearing and memorable. Jordan Hayes plays the role of Isaac’s sister, Emma, who harbors a secret that could turn the tide in this zombie uprising. Hayes takes on her role in a wonderfully underplayed way, allowing the softness of her character to shine as she shows a great deal of compassion throughout the film. The last three main hitters of the film are veterans of the genre and each one of them brings a sense of prestige to the proceedings. Dee Wallace plays the role of Eve, an eccentric witch who is an outcast from the rest of the surrounding community. As always Dee is exceptionally good in the role and her story is a sympathetic one which helps to flesh out the history of all that is happening within the story. Stephen McHattie plays the role of Medic Johnson, a man desperately trying to find a cure to the zombie outbreak. McHattie flourishes as the obscure doctor who tirelessly searches for the answers to this horrible nightmare, even if he is forced to do it at the expense of his life. Last but definitely not least is Bill Moseley who takes on the viscous role of General Williams, a confederate leader who believes that the zombie plague can be controlled and used for his own personal gain. Moseley is known for his wild characters and explosive cinematic portrayals, but in this film he plays a rather laid back sort of madman, who though completely out of his mind, is rather relatable and sympathetic considering the circumstances. All in all, the cast is impressive for such a low budget production.

With Exit Humanity having a good portion of its heritage stemming from zombie lore, the film does a great service to the genre by including a story that is both dead serious and multifaceted. Much like George A. Romero’s body of work, the film has a duel meaning that can be viewed as metaphorical as well as a straight forwarded horror yarn. In Exit Humanity, director John Geddes establishes a cinematic world that is divided in two senses. In one aspect, the people of this film are separated by a Civil War that has torn their country in half, and in another sense the zombie uprising has placed them on opposing sides of a new war which places them on the lower portion of the food chain, pitting the living against the dead. The thematic notion that the dead are coming back to life and trying to devour the living, makes for a great comparison to the brother against brother mentality that the Civil War brought about when it erupted into the lives of all who were involved. It’s this perfect setting and conflicted time period that makes Exit Humanity so believable in conception and execution. The zombie uprising seems fitting in this place in time, and I for one really appreciated the added depth that combining these two separate, yet ridiculously similar beasts, together for an extremely gut wrenching spectacle that rises far above its meager budget.
The inclusion of a heavy-handed and emotional story-arc is also another one of the film’s shining aspects, and the implementing of this serious tone forces the audience to stop and take notice, reflecting on who and what they would lose if placed in the same situation. Some of the moments in this film are truly heartbreaking, giving the film a visceral feel that has been sadly missing in zombie film as of late. The harshness of this cinematic world is also rather potent and by taking this hardened route, the movie comes out better for it. When a horror film has you pondering on what you would do and how you would react with all that is going on in the story, then you know you are doing something right, especially if it unsettles you enough to make you cringe in personal reflection. This film does that and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
One other notable positive about the film is that it looks absolutely spectacular. From the rustic setting of the Civil War era, to the ghastly look of the plethora of walking corpses that litter this film, the movie’s visuals are exceptional in that creepy decaying sort of way. Thankfully when it comes to the zombies, the emphasis is on the classic, slow moving variety, and these creatures are admirably respectable to the genre and never try to overshadow the fact that these are rotting corpses and nothing more. The make-up work in this film is frighteningly simplistic, yet perfectly measured in delivering the spine tingling chills that come from witnessing a soulless embodiment of a human being as it closes in to satisfy its insatiable hunger for flesh. There may not be too much to talk about on the gore side of things, but the film generates enough doom-filled atmosphere to satisfy any fan of the zombie genre.

Exit Humanity is an accomplished zombie film that lovingly introduces us to a time period in history that never was, but truly feels like it has existed in some plain of existence. By combining the turbulent times that the Civil War brought about with the turmoil that occurs when the dead walk the earth, the film balances these two separate entities and perfectly melds them into one cohesive union that simply feels just right. The earth shattering revelation of brother against brother that bombarded the American Civil War is mirrored skillfully into the fabrics of the zombie film formula making it seem like a perfect fit, and truthfully, the two concepts bond into a flawless union.
Rarely do zombie films opt to go the serious route, but Exit Humanity delivers a story that is both engaging and emotionally rewarding as it delves into the human condition and the moral and philosophical pitfalls that befall the main characters of the piece. With a stellar cast across the board and a look and feel that truly captures the decaying nature of a world turned to shit, the film is exquisitely showcased and tonally sound, making for a horror entry that is both thought provoking and frightening. I thoroughly enjoyed my zombie romp with this film and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes their zombie stories to be serious and meaningful. Check it out! Exit Humanity is an…..

Looks like Robin in the Hood.

Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.

This guy is out of his damn mind!

Poor gnome. Somebody forgot the marshmallows.

Looks like you have a nasty plaque problem.

Napping on the job? You lazy shit!

Can't we all just get along?

Get that light out of my face dickhead!

This guy likes to make sure he doesn't miss.

Moseley you bastard!

Rock N Roll man! YEAAAAAAAHHH!!!

The group was equally disgusted with Emma's nasty nail biting habit.

Go ahead and jump you pussy.

And so King Diamond was born.

This cow-poke is about to shit his pants.

Looks like little Edward is blending right in on his first day at zombie school.

Aint no river wide enough... to keep me from getting to you, baby.

This face-painting thing is just a phase..... right?


  1. Yeah pretty decent for a #300k flick.

  2. Exactly, I think they did a hell of a job considering the meager budget and the zombies look pretty damn fantastic.

  3. Pretty much starts out as Jeremiah Johnson meets Day of the Dead and flowers as its own unique take on the zombie genre. Though parallels between these two narratives do continue through out, the film also manages to find its own voice to tell its tale. Really enjoyed it. Glad I spent 10 bucks to own it rather than just renting.