Thursday, April 16, 2009

Deadlands 2: Trapped (2008)

In 2006 filmmaker Gary Ugarek’s low-budget, little-zombie-film-that-could, Deadlands: The Rising, was unleashed upon the horror community. I (along with many other critics) raved about this indie zombie film, calling it “impressive” and “unrelenting”.  So you can imagine my excitement at the prospect of watching the sequel, Deadlands 2: Trapped!

In Deadlands 2: Trapped, the government’s secret bio-weapon experiment is about to be unleashed on the unsuspecting citizens of a small Maryland town. Dr. Robert Mitchell (played by Jim Krut, the “helicopter zombie” in the original Dawn of the Dead) believes that the weapon he has developed will create the perfect army, one that never tires and never quits. Meanwhile, as nighttime drops on the small town people are going about their usual business – going to the movies, meeting friends for drinks, etc. They have no idea that the military is quarantining their entire town. Soon, the bio-weapon is released, turning 90% of the town’s population into fast-moving zombies. A group of survivors holes up in the town’s movie theater while they try to form a plan of escape. Can they get through the zombies and out of the town before the experiment ominously concludes at 6am?

Though it seems that every other indie horror film is about zombies, Deadlands 2 is anything but generic. It stands out from the shambling crowds by putting the viewer directly into the action and making you feel like you are right there with the survivors. This immediacy, along with great pacing, good character development and some wicked special FX, make for one fun thrill ride!

The film’s story is very well-crafted and moves at a very fast pace. While Deadlands: The Rising took some time to get started, Deadlands 2 is a take-no-prisoners whirlwind of zombie action! Even so, it doesn’t forsake character development and actually takes the time to make the characters relatable.

The character development of the film, courtesy of writer/director Gary Ugarek, really helps add to the in-the-moment feel of the film. In a short amount of time we feel that we know the characters, which allows us to cheer the good guys and boo the bad ones. The actors did a great job (for the most part) conveying their characters in a realistic manner. They were able to bring their characters to life and really make us care about them.

There are lots of improvements over the original in regards to the overall look of the film. The film looks much more polished and professional, which is amazing considering the budget was around a measly $6,000. The nitty-gritty indie feel is still there, but this time around more care was taken in setting up camera shots, giving it a very professional sheen.

The special FX and makeup even look better, especially the bite and trauma wounds. The fast-moving zombies look amazing as well. Though some people might prefer the traditional shambling zombies, I think the fast ones are appropriate in the context of the story. Plus, they are quite startling and scary!

Adding to the scary, frenetic atmosphere is a chilling score by Gary Ugarek. This really helps set an ominous mood throughout the film, complementing the action that happens on-screen.

Deadlands 2: Trapped shows steady improvement over Deadlands: The Rising and is one fast-paced and entertaining zombie flick! Deadlands 2: Trapped is one indie zombie flick that couldn’t come higher recommended. In fact, check out both Deadlands: The Rising and Deadlands 2: Trapped…they are both destined to become cult classics!

I can’t wait for Deadlands 3

Available from Amazon!

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