A young couple (Amanda Roeder and Brett Elam) is in the midst of a major decision for their relationship when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. Taking refuge in the basement of a random house, the couple try to figure out exactly what is going on out in the world, even as He suffers from the bite he recently sustained. With time ticking down, the couple resume reflection upon the state of their relationship, trying to figure out what to do going forward.
The biggest obstacle that Benjamin Harris’ feature Dorothy Marie and the Unanswered Questions of the Zombie Apocalypse has to overcome (besides that unwieldy title) is the oversaturation of zombie-related content out there. Much like vampires before them, zombies have never been more popular and, for that reason, it’s difficult to find a way to tell a zombie story that is unique and original; the audience nowadays is too savvy and aware of all things zombie.
Which is why the filmmaker was smart to make this about the couple’s personal drama that would’ve unfolded whether the zombie apocalypse occurred or not. Making a zombie film that is actually not about the zombies is certainly one way to spin it. It actually is a good idea… for a short film.
As a feature, this film is glacially paced and lacks any real suspense or momentum. Sure, the couple has some serious issues to work out between one another, but even those elements wear out rather fast, and the conversations the couple have become repetitive. Attempts at comedy do little but muddle the tone. The occasional steps aside, as She deals with the tragedies to be found elsewhere in the house, over up a change of scene, but don’t offer much else to the overall narrative other than to pad out the running time. At this stage, if you’ve seen one person startled by an “are they or aren’t they dead” potential zombie, you’ve seen them all.
While examples exist throughout indie film of features sustained primarily by small casts in a single location, this is not one where they pull it off. As a short film, they could’ve more efficiently focused on the actual drama of the tale, and given something potentially more powerful. As it is, as the audience, you’re really just waiting for He to succumb to his injuries so it’ll end. No one wants to feel that way while watching a film; a short could leave the audience wanting more, as opposed to bored by all that it was given.
Ultimately, that’s the bottom line with Dorothy Marie and the Unanswered Questions of the Zombie Apocalypse. For the most part, it is an “okay” film, but when you take in how thinly it spreads itself to cover the running time, my opinion becomes less favorable. The performances are fine, but they aren’t spectacular, at least not to the degree they need to be. Too many familiar beats, too little narrative development.
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