“Chaos Unlimited” is a paranoid, guns ‘n grenades fantasy borrowing from “Night of the Living Dead” and “Assault on Precinct 13.” Mark Lewis throws together a buff married couple, a pregnant woman, and a supremely annoying geek. The writer/director/producer then places them in a rural cabin, and lets the sparks fly when looters threaten their woodland retreat.
Carl (Scott Lewis) is a hunk of seething testosterone. The perfect poster boy for “Soldier of Fortune” magazine, Carl can identify precisely which artillery is fired when he hears shots popping off in the distance (“Those were kill shots,” he explains). Donna (Amanda Braton) is his no-nonsense soul mate. When expectant mother Mary (Sanaz Mozafarian) swings by for a visit, toting along repulsive worm Roger (Josh Altman), the group settles in for what should be a relaxing weekend in the sticks.
Riots, looting, and shooting infect the periphery, following a nearby college protest gone awry. “It’s our own Kent State,” suggests Donna, watching disturbing television newscasts of the escalating mayhem. Soon, the Governor has declared a State of Emergency, the National Guard is summoned, and blood spills into the streets… and towards the direction of our frightened foursome.
“Chaos Unlimited” eventually enters us-against-them, “Straw Dogs” territory. Gun-toting rednecks and anarchists invade Carl’s rustic homestead, with ransacking and robbery on their minds. The film’s finale features an artery-puncturing bullet-fest as Lewis goes for his own low-budget variation on John Woo. We’re reminded of George Romero’s clan of trapped zombie-fighters from the first “…Dead” film, with hell-raising hoodlums and hayseeds filling in for the undead attackers.
To fully enjoy “Chaos Unlimited,” viewers must suspend disbelief, and put an appreciation for enthusiasm before detail. Seldom does a bullet make contact with Carl’s cabin, despite the unrelenting sheets of lead hurling towards this fortified abode (no doubt the result of limited funding for squibs and other ballistic effects). Clumsy computer-generated explosions aren’t convincing either, but they’re still fun – and provide some comic relief, however unintentional.
Lewis has created an entertaining exploitation film. We’re always curious as to what will happen next. Meanwhile, there’s a real chemistry between actors Lewis and Braton, playing a married couple with just the right mix of affection, arguing, and compromise. In fact, the former’s name and “man-of-action” manner suggest another macho icon – Lewis Medlock, of 1972’s “Deliverance”. As a beer-swigging, whiny motor mouth, Altman is as grating as a thousand fingernails against a blackboard, but I suppose this reflects his irritating jerk-off of a character.
And there’s no room for compromise in “Chaos Unlimited.” Those preferring flight over fight meet with grim fates. As for pacifists uncomfortable brandishing AK-47’s… expect them to buy the farm as well.
“We’ve got supplies, tools, and a bag of the best firepower money can buy,” declares Carl as he gears up for the ensuing havoc. Put down your survivalist manual, loosen up your bullet-belt, pop the top of a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and hunker down for this he-man hoedown. It’s the next best thing to an NRA rally.