guess it was only a matter of time before the rest of
Europe gave in and offered up their own version of a zombie movie. The Italians
nearly killed off the genre in the '70s by saturating the market, even though
they did manage to create a master of the genre in Lucio Fulci. The Japanese
have become infatuated with zombies of late, giving the world "Wild
and "Stacy" --
all low-budget endeavors, unfortunately. Hong Kong has offered up some zombies
Cops"), as well as the Australians ("Undead").
Now we can add Jonathan Kray and the Dutch to the list with
"Deadline", a 20-minute short shot on digital video.
"Deadline" stars Anjali Taneja as intrepid field
reporter Jenny, who along with her two-man crew stumbles into an office building
that belongs to some game designers. In the building they find Mike (Cas
Jansen), who although is badly hurt and bleeding, manages to tell the story of
how his employees, while trying to finish a violent video game, got bit by
mosquitoes and became zombies. And oh yeah, the zombies are still in the
As the short begins, we're introduced to one of those
convenient news reports that provide exposition by way of bad actors pretending
to be news anchors. Here, we are told about an explosion at a chemical plant and
the widespread appearance of mosquitoes. As the short progresses, it's revealed
that the mosquito infestation, in combination with the spread of toxic
chemicals, has created a lethal menace. With their tails glowing green (in an
ode to "Re-Animator",
apparently) the mosquitoes are making zombies out of whomever they bite.
Running at a scant 20 minutes, there's obviously little
characterization to be found. Jenny stumbles across Mike, he tells his story,
and soon the zombies are attacking. Throw in a hapless security guard and we
have a short showcase of blood, guts, and some minor CGI work. Even though the
budget was obviously low, there is some impressive computer work here. The
office building, seen from a distance, is all CGI; there's also a pull back shot
that makes up the short's final scene showing a CGI cityscape. You won't mistake
"Deadline's" effects work for a George Lucas movie, but they are
nevertheless impressive given the obvious constraints.
Watching "Deadline", I couldn't help but recall
the recently viewed "Coronado".
Here you have a movie where special effects enhance the story, whereas
the entire movie was nothing more than an excuse for special effects. The
difference is startling.
Speaking of full-length movies, I could easily see
"Deadline" as a 90-minute feature. The 20 minutes here can be made
into a feature length film's first act. Some extra scenes could be shot to flesh
out reporter Jenny and her crew, especially Sjaak (Dorus van der Meer), who
shows obvious shock that Lois Lane-wannabe Jenny would rather interview the
dying Mike than immediately call an ambulance for the poor sap. The film's minor
exposition, using the news report conceit, is quick and efficient, passing off
the needed information without effort.
To make a 90-minute movie there wouldn't necessarily have
to be a lot of changes. The biggest change would mean adding more employees to
the company or make the office building house more than just the game company in
order to give the film more victims and potential zombies. Throw in the reporter
and her crew as they are and we have ourselves a fine little Last Stand in a
Haunted House movie. Aside from the shuffling zombies, there are of course the
glowing mosquitoes to provide extra tension and suspense. Who hasn't found it
extremely difficult to swat those little buggers as they circle you patiently
looking for the first opportunity to bite down?