Zombie 108 has been hailed as the first Taiwanese zombie movie in history and has generated a great amount of interest from horror movie buffs and critics alike. Naturally, when asked to review a film that has generated such a buzz, and happens to include zombies I was both excited and wary. Could Zombie 108 really live up to its hype?
The movie’s title sequences explain it all for the audience immediately. After a catastrophic accident in a top-secret research lab, a new strain of virus is released with violent repercussions. It is a common trope in zombie movies, but this is where Zombie 108’s association with the traditional zombie movie ends. As the movie opens we are introduced to one of our protagonists, a young woman searching for her daughter amidst a sea of bodies, as she is chased by zombies we realize that her day will probably not improve from here.
District 108 is no Disneyland, and is the one area of town that is to be avoided at all costs on an average day unless one desires a run-in with an obese, controlling drug lord surrounded by a sea of drowsy beauties. Sadly, as with all zombie movies, this is no average day. The local SWAT team has been called in to evacuate the resistant uninfected. After wasting much time shooting at each other, both sides eventually learn that it is the zombies are, in fact, the real problem in town.
It is generally advised that one nails down genre before shooting begins and this is where Zombie 108 falls short. At times it’s as though the creators have watched the trailers of zombie classics and judged what their movie should look like from that alone and the movie soon dissolves into generic chaos, jumping from zombie movie, to cop movie, to Saw-esque torture porn, and sometimes even comedy.
One of the more interesting aspects of the movie is that there are no grey areas here when it comes to characters. One is either innocent or evil as evidenced by one character being billed only as ‘Pervert’. There is something refreshing about knowing exactly where we stand in a movie, and some of the more arty sequences make the audience feel as though we are watching a comic book in action. These scenes are the most culturally different to our own and we feel like we are experiencing something new and intriguing. Unfortunately, with the addition of two ‘comedic’ American drug pushers and the ‘Pervert’ himself, Zombie 108 reverts to madness and leaves the audience behind.
Zombie 108 is an interesting movie anomaly and seems to have succeeded where most fail. Director Joe Chien’s call for funding was answered by over 900 fans who aided in the creation of the movie. Suddenly social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are becoming important in the movie world for more than simply ranting or raving about the latest movie you have seen. For me, Zombie 108 is an indicator; it is imperfect in many ways but shows a new era opening up in art. With the advent of funding options like Kickstarter we may see independent crowd-funded movies like Zombie 108 really take flight. Maybe next time though more thought will be put into ensuring the audience know their generic positions and aren’t so consistently confused.
Zombie 108 is an exciting new step in movie-making, but ultimately leaves zombie lovers disappointed as it jars the audience jumping from genre to genre and never seeming to settle anywhere. For a movie named ‘Zombie 108’, it frequently veers away from the zombie aspect and into vague cultural and sexual territories. Whilst some of us might have found ourselves wildly excited about watching a Taiwanese zombie movie, Zombie 108 is somewhat of a disappointment.
Zombie 108 ends in the same way it opens, with the streets littered with bodies and people searching for hope in a seemingly hopeless world. As the credits roll we find ourselves wondering if the hour and a half in the middle was truly necessary. It is the movie we see in the first and final ten minutes that I would like to see.
Format: Anamorphic, Dolby, PAL, Widescreen
Region: Region 2
Number of discs: 1
DVD Release Date: 2nd July 2012
Run Time: 83 minutes