Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Make-Out with Violence (2010)
Zombie movies are usually brainless (ahem, pardon the pun) but fun romps in the horror world. However, lately many have become disenchanted by the subgenre, usually forgoing seeing a zombie film with the assumption that it’ll be like all the rest, with nothing new or interesting to contribute. For most films, these assumptions would be correct. However, the zombie film Make-Out with Violence is an entirely different animal and takes the zombie film to amazing emotional depths.
Make-Out with Violence tells the story of twin brothers Patrick (Eric Lehning) and Carol Darling (Cody DeVos), newly graduated from high school and struggling to come to terms with the mysterious disappearance of their friend, the bright and beautiful Wendy Hearst. When a drive through the countryside surrounding their posh suburban community leads to the discovery of Wendy’s mysteriously animated corpse, the boys secretly transport the zombie Wendy to an empty house in hopes of somehow bringing her back to life. As the sweltering summer pushes on, they must maintain the appearance of normalcy for their friends and family as they search for ways to revive the Wendy they once knew, or, failing that, to satisfy their own quests for love amongst the living and the dead.
Make-Out with Violence feels more of like a drama rather than a horror film, and in fact focuses more on the trauma of growing up instead of inundating us with blood, guts and hordes of zombies. In fact, there is only one zombie in the movie, the lovely in life and death Wendy, and there are only a few instances where she is really scary. In fact, most of the time she just lays there, staring at nothing with her glazed-over eyes (until she tries to move, and then her jerky movements will send shivers up your spine).
You might be thinking that the plot line of teens keeping a pretty girl zombie as a “pet” sounds an awful lot like Deadgirl, which is what I thought before viewing the film. However, Make-Out with Violence takes an entirely different route than Deadgirl. The boys don’t ever sexually exploit the living corpse, but instead take careful care of her and try to get her to do normal things, like sit at a dinner table and eat some birthday cake. Instead of being shocking, vulgar and offensive like Deadgirl, Make-Out with Violence is a much more subtle film on the loss of innocence and growing up, with no less traumatizing results.
I also thought that all the actors did an amazing job. You really believed what they were going through and came to relate to them, especially through their unrequited loves. Eric Lehning and Cody DeVos were the standouts as the Darling twins. They expressed so many different emotions as their characters went through so much. Special mention must also be made of Brett Miller, who played the twins younger brother Beetle. For his young age, he was very impressive! Leah High was commendable as Addy, the twins long-time friend and Carol’s love interest. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lovely Shellie Marie Shartzer, who played Wendy. Though she is silent and still most of the movie, she does an excellent job conveying the hopelessness of her situation and just how truly changed she is from when she was alive.
This is the first feature film from the Deagol Brothers, which I never would have guessed from watching Make-Out with Violence because it looks so stunning and polished. The visuals perfectly captured the bittersweet feeling of summertime, from singing cicadas to melty milkshakes. The melancholy feel and dreamy-like visuals reminded me of the film The Virgin Suicides, which also explored death and the malaise of summertime.
Make-Out with Violence isn’t for everyone, and if you go into it expecting a regular, run-of-the-mill zombie flick you’ll probably be disappointed. However, if you don’t mind introspective and intelligent films that are beautifully haunting and heartfelt, you just might want to cozy up with Make-Out with Violence.
Available from Amazon!