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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Kill Zombie! (Blu-ray)
Kill Zombie! (Blu-ray)
Well Go USA // Unrated // June 10, 2014 // Region A
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted May 27, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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C'mon, you know you had me at "Dutch zombie flick".

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The good news...? Aziz (Yahya Gaier) has finally landed a date with Tess (Nadia Poeschmann), the temptress that everyone in the office has been ogling for ages. If you weren't a fictional character on the other end of the world, I'd totally high-five you right about now, buddy.

The bad news...? Aziz' slob of a brother (Mimoun Ouled Radi) won't leave the poor guy alone, and one phone call too many gets Aziz the ol' heave-ho. Guess that means no one at the office can give Aziz a high-five either.

The other bad news...? Aziz does the sad Charlie Brown walk over to a party that Mo has taken over, and before you know it, they're thrown in the slammer for getting in a fight with all the wrong people.

The other, other bad news...? A Russian space station has crumbled into ruin all over Amsterdam, contaminating everyone and everything that comes anywhere near it. Dunno if it's some extraterrestrial virus or goopy space moss or what, but the short answer is zombie outbreak.

It's the morning after, and no one has any clue how many survivors are left. There are Aziz and Mo, of course, along with the two thugs they were frantically fleeing from that party yesterday. Some white collar criminal type in a ritzy suit is in the cell in between 'em. Oh, and then there's Kim (Gigi Ravelli), a shotgun-toting pin-up model of a police officer. So, what do you do when everything you've ever known or cared about is being devoured by the ravenous undead? Rob a bank? Seek sanctuary at some military shelter? Carve a path towards that old office tower where Aziz used to work and where his not-really-his-girlfriend Tess is trapped, desperate for help? The answer to that long list of questions is "yes".

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The frustrating thing about Kill Zombie! is that it's almost great. I like pretty much everyone in the cast, and I certainly appreciate the diversity. It's startling what these Dutch filmmakers were able to produce on a relatively tiny budget. The sheer volume of zombies is pretty staggering, there's a metric ton of ambitious and skillfully executed digital effects, and Kill Zombie! effectively sells the idea that a metropolis the size of Amsterdam lay in smoldering ruin. What rings hollow is that Kill Zombie! feels as if it's content to parrot the favorite genre flicks of its writer and pair of directors. The hard, quick cuts, off-kilter angles, and sense of humor are nicked heavily from Shaun of the Dead. Kim's lugging around of a fairly Ramona Flowers-esque big-ass hammer and a video game fight sequence, complete with "Mortal Kombat" voiceover and health bars, show that they've tuned into Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as well. It sort of feels like screenwriter Tijs van Marle and directors Martijn Smits and Erwin van den Eshof shoved a bunch of splatter flicks into a Cuisinart, and out poured Kill Zombie!. I definitely see Dead Alive, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, most of the Edgar Wright oeuvre, and maybe even a little Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki in here.

It'd be one thing to use those references as a launching pad towards something really unique and memorable, but instead, they kinda just feel like references. The splatter is pretty uneven. Plenty of green goop gets sloshed around, and Kill Zombie! is every bit as violent as you'd expect from a movie with both "kill" and an exclamation point in its title, but none of it really feels new or different. There's nothing especially screengrab-worthy, anyway, or I would've added it into this review by now. Its most visually stylish moments kind of just get in the way, not coming across as style-as-substance in the same vein as Edgar Wright. Its sense of humor never really scores a laugh, from Mo's scowling at tired Scarface references to a fat guy getting his fingers stuck in a bowling ball. The many cameos from what I assume are Dutch celebrities don't really translate to this side of the Atlantic either. Some of the twists and turns near the end are setup well enough in advance that they don't manage to surprise, although I've gotta give Kill Zombie! credit for a final shock that I definitely didn't see coming.

The difficult thing about using Shaun of the Dead as a model is that...well, it's brilliant. Edgar Wright's breakthrough is stylish as hell, manic, funny, surprisingly intense as it builds to its climax, and has an honest-to-God heart thumping away under all those barrel drums of grue. Kill Zombie! tries to mimic Wright's motions as best it can but never approaches anything close to those same heights. Rent It.

The digital photography behind Kill Zombie! is crisp, clean, and overflowing with fine detail, and all of that makes for a really slick lookin' Blu-ray disc. Its colors are impressively bright and vibrant for a gutmuncher, and I couldn't spot any sputters or stutters in the compression. Aside from a couple nasty bursts of banding, mostly during the barrage of studio logos as well as the Russian space station crashing to Earth, there's really not much of anything to gripe about.

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The rest of the technical specs are pretty much what you woulda banked on: single layer Blu-ray disc, AVC encode, and an aspect ratio of 2.39:1.

Kill Zombie! is packing a really effective 16-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack in its original Dutch. The distinctness and clarity of every last element in the mix -- from the clean, clear dialogue to the crunchy, goopy sound effects -- consistently impress. There's a hell of a lot going on in the lower frequencies, particularly a few key explosions and, oh, the smoldering remains of a space station smashing into an office tower. Kill Zombie! opts for an intensely atmospheric sound design, seizing a death grip around the surround channels and heaping on oodles of directional effects. Doesn't matter if some bastard is chucking an armful of paperwork at the office after hours, if a foxy cop is smashing a zombie's noggin into a steel pipe off-camera, or if armies of the undead are swarming from every direction: Kill Zombie! is chomping at the bit to unleash those rear speakers. Again, there's just no room for complaint...an impressively solid effort all around.

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A Dolby Digital stereo track (224kbps), also in Dutch, is riding shotgun. Optional English subtitles are enabled by default. This is the only set of subtitles available, and there's nothing for the deaf or hard of hearing bobbing around here. For what it's worth, the English subs are contained entirely in the body of the frame, so Kill Zombie! plays beautifully for the eight of you out there with constant image height projection rigs.

Well, this won't take long.
  • Trailer (1 min.; HD): Just a high-def theatrical trailer. If you're into all that technical stuff, the trailer is delivered at 1080i30, by the way, rather than the usual 1080p24.

The Final Word
I definitely appreciate the ambition and manic energy that keep Kill Zombie! screaming forward, but it plays more like some talented upstarts mimicking their splatter idols rather than something really vital or innovative itself. There's no denying what directors Martijn Smits and Erwin van den Eshof have accomplished on a very limited budget, but the comedy is anemic, the mayhem isn't as gonzo as some of the zombie flicks it's imitating, and its more emotional moments really don't stick the landing as well as they should. Not bad, but also not good enough to enthusiastically recommend. Worth a rental, though. Rent It.
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