'Extinction': Film Review

Extinction Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

Extinction Still - H 2015

"The Walking Dead" does it better.

Matthew Fox and Jeffrey Donovan play survivors of a zombie apocalypse in Miguel Angel Vivas' horror movie.

If there's one reason to hope for an actual zombie apocalypse, it's that there will at least be no more zombie apocalypse movies. But until then, we have to sit through the likes of Extinction (now there's an original title), which attempts to gussy up the formula by mixing in some family drama. Actually, a lot of family drama, as a significant portion of the overlong film's running time is consumed with the uninteresting relationships between three of the survivors. It's an admirable approach that doesn't pay off and will leave horror lovers impatient for the carnage to begin.

After an exciting prologue in which we see a bunch of zombies attacking a busload of would-be victims who are not-so-effectively guarded by soldiers, the action  or lack thereof  shifts to nine years later. Al Gore will certainly feel vindicated, as the planet has become a wintry wasteland seemingly inhabited only by Jack (Jeffrey Donovan), his nine-year-old daughter Lu (Quinn McColgan) and their neighbor Patrick (Matthew Fox) and his loyal pooch. The town they live in is named — wait for it — Harmony, and there's little doubt that by the end of the film the name will prove ironic.

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The two men keep their distance from each other, their enmity arising from past events involving Patrick's wife (Valeria Vereau), who fell victim to the zombies. Jack is a loving father, desperately attempting to raise his daughter amidst obviously difficult circumstances, while Patrick seems to be descending into madness, with a voice on his radio persuading him to inflict harm on his neighbor.

But there's nothing like a zombie attack to bring people together, and when both men wind up getting bitten by the fast-moving, blind creatures whose lithe athleticism suggests a greater dedication to Pilates than flesh eating, they eventually join forces. After enduring an interminable amount of domestic Sturm und Drang, genre fans are finally rewarded with a full-on zombie siege, one that unfortunately pales in comparison to a typical episode of The Walking Dead. The one twist is that the zombies here, although quite lethal, are no longer contagious.

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Director Miguel Angel Vivas (Kidnapped) fails to bring any visual flair to the sluggishly paced proceedings, and the CGI effects prove less than convincing. Fox and Donovan, who did far better work on their respective TV shows Lost and Burn Notice, are unable to breathe much life into their stock characters, with the former seeming particularly uncomfortable in his largely non-action role. Far better is child actress McColgan, delivering a well-rounded, naturalistic performance. Here's hoping she gets a better movie next time.

Production: La Ferme! Productions, Laokoon Filmgroup, Ombra Films, Telefonica Studios, Vaca Films
Cast: Matthew Fox, Jeffrey Donovan, Quinn McColgan, Valeria Vereau, Clara Lago
Director: Miguel Angel Vivas
Screenwriters: Alberto Marini, Miguel Angel Vivas
Producers: Jaume Collet-Serra, Ignacio Fernandez-Veiga Feijoo, Brad Luff, Emma Lustres, Borja Pena, Juan Sola
Executive producers: Gabriel Arias-Salgado, James Gibb, Axel Kuschevatzky
Director of photography: Jose Inchaustegui
Production designers: Juan Pedro De Gaspar, Miguel Riesco
Editors: Luis de la Madrid, Jordi Lopez
Costume designer: Andrea Flesch
Composer: Sergio Moure

Rated R, 113 min.