he low budget zombie film "Maplewoods"
claims to run about 85 minutes, but that's a big fat lie. It's more like
60 minutes if you don't count all the dramatic pauses the actors in the
film employs for no obvious reason in-between long and laborious dialogue.
(Also, the film has perhaps the longest opening credit sequence in
history; I swear it took another 10 minutes off the film's "running
time".) The film itself has no original bone in its body, once again
turning to that old -- oh dear God it's so old -- generic storyline
about a "government experiment gone awry".
Our zombie film is about a group of Super Duper Elite
Special Forces Badasses sent to secure a shack in the woods -- er, I mean,
a Super Secret Military Base -- conducting one of those Super Secret
Experiments Guaranteed To Go Wrong. (Although why some of these super
military badasses are wearing ski masks and most of them are armed with
only automatic handguns is a mystery only the film's auteur can possibly
explain.) The unit is lead by a General who looks much too young and is
bringing along a Shady CIA agent who looks like a truck driver.
Underneath the shack -- er, military complex -- our
elite soldiers discover that the place is crawling with zombies. Alas,
since they were dumb enough to bring along a Shady CIA agent in the first
place, the agent of course betrays them and some kids -- er, I mean, Elite
Special Forces soldiers -- get munched by zombies as a result. Somehow,
while the soldiers are still in the shack getting all John Woo-ed against
the CIA agent (in a small shack, no less!), zombies have appeared outside
and surrounded them. Before you can say, "Oh Lord, it's a remake of
George Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead'", it's suddenly a remake
of George Romero's "Night
of the Living Dead".
As if being derivative while employing his
out-of-work drinking buddies wasn't bad enough, David Stewart elects to
shoot some of the film outside, at night. Needless to say, shooting in the
dark without artificial light is no way to make a movie. At least it's no
way to make a movie if you want the audience to be able to see
what's going on. Although I have to admit, seeing a soldier take on
another soldier-turned-zombie by out-boxing him was pretty funny.
Unfortunately this is the only scene in the entire movie played for camp
The rest of "Maplewoods" is played with
such a straight face that one has to wonder how Stewart couldn't figure
out that camp was the only way to go. With so little to work with, most
filmmakers would have realized early on that trying to make a serious
movie is simply out of the question. But don't tell Stewart that.
"Maplewoods" is as serious as can be, even though one can't help
but notice that one of the Super Duper Elite Special Forces soldier is a
brunette who might also be a midget. Or maybe she's just really, really
Which leads me to this: the casting is simply horrid
across the board. Even if familiarity with the genre makes one lean
towards acceptance of this particular problem, you'd think the filmmakers
could have done better, if just to cast older actors where appropriate. In
this case, the actors are either too old or too young. Doesn't anyone in
their '30s live around wherever this movie was shot? That said, it's kind
of hard not to laugh at the sight of a high school kid trying to play
commando. Actually, casting high school kids probably explains why some of
the commandos wore color-coded ski masks for no apparent reason.
As one of those throwaway low-budget zombie films, I
suppose "Maplewoods" isn't nearly as bad as most, even if it's
not terribly good by any stretch of the imagination. Still, you have to
give David Stewart credit for one thing: the guy sure took things
seriously, even if doing so proved to be the film's biggest failing. If
your cinematic diet includes the occasional cheapo Backyard Filmmaking,
"Maplewoods" has some really funny moments. Unintentionally
funny, of course.