One can imagine the pitch for Osombie. It's simple. "What if Osama bin Laden was a zombie?" The ad copy practically writes itself. Whether one thinks this is a genius idea for a horror movie or not, the premise should result in a fun, weird experience. It certainly is both at times, but not enough to make it truly successful.
The story follows Dusty (Eve Mauro), who is wandering through the wilds of Afghanistan searching for her conspiracy nut brother Derek (Jasen Wade), who is convinced that Osama bin Laden is alive, and is determined to kill the man himself. Unbeknownst to Dusty, and most of the world, Afghanistan is awash with zombies, a result of the misuse of American chemical weapons. Dusty is saved from the bloodthirsty ghouls only by the timely intervention of a US / British special forces unit, on its way to an insurgent base camp where rumor has it something big is in the offing.
The members of this elite unit are a ragtag bunch: Tomboy (Danielle Chuchran) is the tough but sensitive female, Joker (Paul D. Hunt) is the scraggly wiseacre, Chip (Corey Sevier) is the dreamy hero type, etc., etc. The group could have been selected from a grab bag of movie tropes, but they do well enough making the film enjoyable. Along with Dusty, the team treks toward the insurgent camp, because Derek might be there, and they don't have much choice, since their communications have been cutoff and that's where the pickup is going to be. Along the way, they encounter lots of zombies, a few Taliban, and some stereotypical action movie guff.
While the premise is oddball enough to be inherently interesting, the execution leaves a little to be desired. There's some clear talent here. The film looks absolutely gorgeous, and the stark beauty of the Utah locations helps that a lot. The performances are mostly good, though the sense of the actors going through the motions is strong. And the script doesn't help them any, with shopworn lines and situations cropping up constantly. For instance, when Tomboy's love interest is killed (and she tells him of this interest only when his death is imminent), she works off her frustration by doing sword forms, in silhouette, against the darkening twilight sky. It doesn't get much cheesier than that. It's as if the producers take eighties action films as the standard from which they must begin, but fail to ever produce anything new from that source of inspiration.
This is clearly a low budget film, and the blood and gore effects generally disappoint. It appears that all the blood splatter and muzzle flares (and there are a lot of both) are CG, and though they look much better than similar effects ten years ago, they are quite obviously fake. On the other hand, the zombie makeup is quite good, and it's clear that time and attention was devoted to this area.
There are positive points about Osombie, such as the sumptuous look, and the better than average performances, but the negative aspects overwhelm these. The story is repetitive and derivative, and not terribly exciting. In other words, rent it.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and the high def image is stunningly good. The colors are clear and bright, the contrast sharp, and aside from a rare and very mild posterization, just about perfect. This is a very good looking film.
Audio is available in both 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio and 5.1 Dolby digital, though this reviewer could not tell much difference between the two. Nothing much is asked of the audio, either by the action / gun battle scenes, or the synth score. English subtitles are included, but no alternate language track.
The only extras included are trailers, both for the feature film, and for War of the Dead, Iron Sky and Girls Gone Dead.
Osombie is a great idea, at least for an exploitive B movie. Osama bin Laden as a zombie just screams Roger Corman. But the film is not nearly exploitive, or weird, or fun enough to take advantage of that near genius premise. It follows all the standard action movie tropes, and neither breaks new ground nor does the same old thing with flair and panache. It's disappointing that Osombie can't live up to the potential of its central idea.