DVD Review Office of the Dead
Directed by: Matthew Chung Cast: Teddy Chen Culver, Christina July Kim, Shawn Parikh Running Time: 1 hr, 12 min Rating: R Due Out: August 10, 2010
PLOT: Life Corp has developed a method for electronically "rewriting" negative thoughts and sending them back into the brain as positive and affirming. Only there's a minor glitch with the program: it turns its recipients into zombies. Now zombies are running amok in the Life Corp offices and Ben (Culver), Liz (Kim), and Raj (Parikh) have to make it out alive.
WHO'S IT FOR? It's a vanity project for the people who made it. Not even really potent marijuana and a Lazy Susan of munchies can salvage it.
Office of the Dead was a great idea, but it failed miserably on two equally crucial fronts: 1) zombie movie and 2) corporate parody. It needed to pull off one of those elements in order to be forgivable, but instead opted for unspectacular, tepid blah.
Man, I really hate to be this harsh with an independent film, because I adore independent films. I'm especially fond of independent horror, because you can do so much with the genre. I heartily invite more fresh pairs of eyes to this most beloved genre of mine; the newcomers add even more creepy dimensions. So, under any other circumstances, I would work really hard to find something redeemable about Office of the Dead; I would overlook the inconsistent editing and the hammy acting. I would encourage these people in their endeavor to contribute to artistic horror - heck, even gory, B-movie horror!
Here's the insurmountable snag: I'm pretty sure Matthew Chung doesn't actually like zombie movies or he's never seen a zombie movie. Either way, don't make a zombie movie, even if you're aiming for an ironic look at corporate America. There is very little gore in this zombie movie. Really take a moment to let that sink in. Characters get swarmed by zombies, screaming in terror, and then when next you see them, they are unscathed. A zombie movie without gore is like a porno without sex and nudity - it feels like a weird waste of everyone's time.
Gore isn't expensive, even if it's just ketchup. In fact, with the right script, a zombie B-movie using ketchup for blood could conceivably turn into a cult hit. Except, we don't even get that. It feels like watching five-year-olds performing Hamlet, although the five-year-olds are still cute for their effort. Chung could've/should've done better and effortlessly. It's actually a bit baffling.
But I can't let myself end on a negative note, so here's what the movie does right: there are a handful of creative cuts to fake news shows or character asides that are quite good; the three main actors aren't painfully terrible, especially Christina July Kim; Teddy Chen Culver is very pretty eye-candy.
Unfortunately, that's all I got.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10