The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 6.9.14 Issue #310: After Effect (2013)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 06.09.2014
A look at the 2013 zombie flick After Effect, two new batches of Things to Watch Out For This Week, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned and more!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #310: After Effect (2013)
Zombies!: Week 2
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been attacked by a hammer wielding mutant coyote that also drives a truck, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and ten, Zombies! continues with the low budget zombie riff from 2013, After Effect, directed and co-written by David McElroy.
After Effect (2013)
After Effect, originally titled The Removed, isn't your typical low budget zombie movie. The zombies on display aren't technically zombies in the George A. Romero sense. Instead, the zombies in After Effect are fast moving killers hell bent on destroying everything in their path, similar to the zombies in Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (and, yes, that is a zombie movie). But even then After Effect's zombies aren't quite 28 Days Lateresque, either. They're like the ultimate prequel to every zombie movie about a military experiment gone awry. They don't attack in packs. They don't like one another. And, well, the rarely ever appear as a group at all.
The movie stars Tuckie White as Lacie Donovan, a sort of down on her luck college student who needs money desperately. Her grades are slipping and, if she doesn't find a way to improve her GPA, she'll be forced to leave school. In a bid to earn an extra $1,000 Lacey volunteers to participate in a medical experiment during spring break. The experiment, which is being conducted in a far off building in the middle of nowhere, is expected to only last a few days. There are six other people participating in the experiment; bored, rich girl Riley (Kristina Geddes), TV lover Ty (Zack Hawkins), the sensible Keisha (Alja Jackson), the hot for one another couple Carter and Amanda (Jeremy Kahn and Lily Hex), medical experiment veteran Jake (Jake Hames), and Lacie's dorm mate Killian (Matt Lucki).
The first half or so of the movie is all about the test subjects getting to know one another. They all have their reasons for participating in the study and they talk to each other about them. None of them seem to have any real misgivings about the way the medical test is being conducted. Why is this test being conducted out in the middle of nowhere? Why is the building essentially empty save for a few nurses and security guards? And why, in this day and age, would anyone agree to give up his or her cellphone or even participate in anything that doesn't allow personal communication to the outside world? No one within the group seems to be concerned about any of this stuff (well, Lacey is sort of concerned but it's a fleeting concern at best. Perhaps the lure of money is a good enough reason not to cause a ruckus?). Of course, we, the audience, know something is up because, before we ever meet Lacey, we see a young woman gunned down in the woods by a SWAT team. Why was she gunned down? Because she was running, trying to escape. Just what the heck is going on here?
We don't see the experiment in action until roughly the mid-point of the movie, and even then there's still quite a bit of mystery about what precisely is going on. We see Lacie walked down a hallway and into a sealed room where she is knocked out via a pungent gas piped in through the air conditioning. We then see Lacey waking up in her room, terrified about what she just went through. She goes and looks for her fellow test subjects, presumably to find out what they went through, too. Lacie finds out quickly that everyone went through the same exact thing and that there's no way out of the building. All of the doors are locked, there are no phones, and there are cameras everywhere. Someone is watching them. Why? Just what the heck is going on here? And where the heck are Carter and Amanda?
There's quite a bit of slow burn suspense in the first half of the movie. We know that something bad is eventually going to happen to the test subject group but we don't know when. Having to sit through their dinner and recreation time discussing life and whatnot is just excruciating (in a good sense). Just get to the zombies already! When the zombie part of the story kicks in to high gear the movie picks up the pace and becomes a sort of race against time. Members of the group are turning into crazed killers all the while trying to find a way out of the building. Who will turn next? Who will survive? Will anyone survive?
The zombie action stuff we get to see is pretty good. The zombies have just enough makeup on them to be creepy and what they do to people (and themselves) is always gnarly. And there's a real sense of danger for the survivors when the zombies are moving because the survivors don't have any weapons to defend themselves. The survivors have to hide and hope they can find a way out.
Now, I don't mind downbeat endings in general. There's nothing wrong with turning off a movie and feeling depressed. However, After Effect's ending is a little too downbeat for its own good. At no point do you feel as though anyone involved has any chance of getting out of the building alive. I'm going to assume that this was seen as a fine chance to engage in a kind of reverse suspense where, instead of waiting to see who gets out alive, you're waiting to see when everyone dies. The movie also contains a general callousness that just grows into a mean-spiritedness by the end that makes you wonder why you watched the movie at all. Perhaps had the movie's villains been a little more outwardly villainous the mean-spiritedness wouldn't have been so overwhelming at the end. But the villains are just kind of bland individuals doing a job. I'm sure someone thought that was a fine strategy to make the movie seem more profound than it actually is. I can appreciate that kind of thinking, but, in the case of this movie, I can't really endorse it. It makes the movie feel pointless, and even in the world of downbeat endings you don't want your movie to feel pointless.
White does a great job as Lacie. You like her immediately and you sort of feel sorry for her after she explains her life story and how she wants to use the money from the test to fly out and see her mother. She also has great chemistry with Lucki's Killian. It's too bad the movie never really does anything with that attraction beyond talking about it on the edges. Jake Hames is awesome as Jake. He's a bit of an asshole but you like him anyway. And Jeremy Kahn is funny as Carter (you'll also cringe after seeing what happens to him when he's with his Amanda. It's just terrible). And Lily Hex is, well, very nice.
On the bad guy side of things, John Turk does an okay job as Sanders, the main guy the test subjects deal with. He's big and whatnot but he isn't very menacing. And Will Clinger is a little too goofy as the video engineer who also is responsible for disposing of the test subjects' cars (how did he get that job?). The only bad guy character that gives off any kind of menace is Senator Davis, as played by Daniel Baldwin. Baldwin probably has five minutes of combined screen time but he shines in those five minutes. He just oozes menace and sleaze and you can't stand him. Perhaps he will be featured in a sequel to this movie as I would love to see what he's really made of (you know, just how depraved is he? What is he willing to do for "national security?").
I don't know if I can outright recommend After Effect as it's, again, a little too downbeat for its own good. It's got some good stuff in it, yes, but it's so dang depressing that you're likely to ask yourself why you even bothered with it in the first place. Writer-director McElroy has a voice and knows how to generate suspense and dread. I look forward to seeing whatever else he has in store for the movie world. After Effect is a good start to a career. Just lighten up a bit, man.
After Effect is okay. It's good, even. I just can't say it's a must see. So, I'll leave it up to you. See After Effect if you want.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: Around 10.
Undead bodies: 6.
Nudity?: Yes, and it is outstanding.
Doobage: Golf, a forest chase, sniper attack, oozing black blood, a class, soup eating, a way too clean dorm room, blood drawing, pocket checking, inappropriate fondling, gross food, gas mask hooey, a long hallway, a freak out, serious barfing, hazmat suit hooey, sex, gross nail removal, a beat down, a blood trail, multiple locked doors, sandwich eating, a nose bleed, camera breaking, another freak out, bloody throat removal, neck breaking, slow motion chair thrown through a mirror, A/C duct work hooey, pool cue breaking, an ass kicking, broken pool cue to the side of the neck, strangulation, a SWAT team clean-up crew, bullet to the head, eye gouging, multiple shots to the body, body burning, and the cycle continues.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: Daniel Baldwin, Daniel Baldwin playing golf, college hooey, a dorm room that is way too clean, blood drawing, a story about an 8th grade science experiment, a funny racism bit, getting to know the test subjects, serious barfing, an Apple computer laptop, zombies that attack other zombies, a nerdy video engineer, attempted pizza, A/C/ duct work hooey, a long ride to the furnace, and the cycle continues.
Best lines: "Indecisiveness will only get you so far in my class," "Drugs are not a laughing matter, Miss Donovan," "Okay, what's with the smile?," "Amanda, you need to come with me now," "Release the gas," "You smell good," "What's happening to me?," "You know what this is? This is fucked! This is completely fucked!," "Amanda, is that you?," "You know, chivalry died with women's lib!," "Excellent idea," "Dude, I don't think that's normal," "I hope I didn't miss anything tasty," "Jake, calm down!," and "Should I call in a clean-up crew?"
Next week: Zombies! continues with Detention of the Dead (2012)!
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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
-Non Stop: I managed to see this Liam Neeson action flick when it was in theatres and it was awesome. It wasn't anything particularly original as there are oodles of action mystery movies out there, but it was well acted, well made in general, and it was fun. What more do you need from a movie? And I hope that Neeson keeps making these kinds of action movies. He's always excellent in them.
-Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: I've never been a big fan of the Jack Ryan movies, but this reboot looks kind of good. It comes off as a sort of gritty, low rent James Bond type deal, and it's always cool to see Kenneth Branagh playing a bad guy. The man knows how to ooze menace and sleaze.
-Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: This wonderful documentary science series just ended its run on Fox, and this DVD set will allow you to re-experience every bit of science greatness doled out by host Neil deGrasse Tyson. Wouldn't it be great if Fox and Nat Geo ordered up a second season of the show? Damn straight.
-Rizzoli & Isles: Season 4: Season five of this nifty cop comedy drama starts next week, so what better way to get reacquainted with what's going down in Boston than with this DVD set? Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander are terrific as friends and colleagues, and it's never boring when they're around. I am interested to see how the show is going to deal with the real life death of Lee Thompson Young. How will his character, Detective Frost, be written out of the show?
-Adult World: This comedy was made near my hometown but, for reasons that will baffle me for decades, it was only shown a few times in an actual movie theatre in said town. I mean, why not try to run it at the mall? People would have gone to see it. Anyway, it looks kind of funny, and it has managed to garner some decent reviews. The movie apparently won't change the world but it' still worth seeing at least once.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits
-Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finale thoughts: Well, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ended with quite the bang, didn't it? Coulson and what's left of his team taking down Garrett and his HYDRA forces, all the while setting up the next season and the sort of return of S.H.I.E.L.D. I was really hoping that Garrett would still be around next season as Bill Paxton seemed to be having the time of his life playing a sleazy bad guy, and the idea of a cyborg Bill Paxton is something that the show could have explored and had fun with in season two. I guess it could still do that somehow as the show is a comic book show, but I doubt it will happen.
So what's next for the traitor Ward? Will he somehow be brought back into the fold at some point (almost everyone kept saying that there was still "good" in Ward. That has to foreshadow something, doesn't it?) or will he be forgotten for a season? I sort of seeing him coming back mid-season in season two. Again, he still has "good" in him and Skye still has a thing for him, so he'll be back.
How will Coulson reconfigure S.H.I.E.L.D.? And how will the upcoming The Avengers sequel figure into that? Will S.H.I.E.L.D. still have some clout, or will it have to become a well-funded vigilante outfit? And will any of the Avengers ever find out that Coulson is still alive? How will that continue to be a secret if the infrastructure of S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone?
And who the hell was that slimy guy at the end of the season finale, the guy that Raina went to see? What kind of trouble is he going to create for Coulson?
Overall I thought Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a worthwhile show and kicked ass most of the time. Things definitely picked up after Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out and changed everything, but I thought it was a pretty good show before all of that. It'll be interesting to see how the second season keeps up the momentum from the end of season one and if more Marvel characters show up, both from the movies (Tony Stark has to appear at some point. He just has to) and from the upcoming Netflix things. And how will the mid-season Agent Carter show work within the S.H.I.E.L.D. framework? Will it be its own thing or will it be connected to everything else?
I can't wait for season two to begin. I want to know what the heck Coulson was drawing on the wall at the end.
-The Night Shift thoughts: I didn't have high hopes for this new NBC hospital show, mostly because the commercials made it come off as rather generic. We've all seen shows about hip ad edgy yet deeply concerned doctors and nurses and whatnot in hospitals on the brink of collapse and The Night Shift looked no different. I'm happy to say that the actual show, while still kind of generic, is a fun show with a good cast that works very hard to make things interesting.
Eion Macken is excellent as the star TC Callahan. I was worried that his "Army doctor in Afghanistan" background would drag the show down into the whole "war is hell" thing that bogs down so many shows featuring characters with modern war backgrounds (it's just a lame cliché to make the show and the characters seem far more important than they actually are), but it isn't something the show dwells on. Instead, the show is all about TC, his doctor colleague/ friend/potential love interest Dr. Jordan Alexander (Jill Flint), and their ongoing battles with hospital administrator and penny pinching tight ass Michael Ragosa, played by El Wray hisself Freddy Rodriguez.
Oh, man, Ragosa is such a douchebag asshole. I know that he's just doing his job and trying to "save the hospital" since it has budget issues and someone has to look after the hospital's finances, but he's still a big asshole. Every time he clenches his jaw and starts threatening TC and the other doctors that work the night shift you just want to see someone punch him in the goddamn face. In terms of overall douchebaggery he reminds me of Paul McCrane's Dr. Romano on ER. How long will Ragosa be able to keep up the villainy? Will he eventually succumb to it somehow or will he only get worse?
NBC seems to be keen on keeping the show around for the summer, so at least we'll get a chance to see how one season of it works out. I just hope that the show's ratings don't drop and NBC replaces it with reruns of Special Victims Unit. The Night Shift has earned a shot at hanging around.
-Jennifer Falls thoughts: I didn't have high hopes for this new TV Land sitcom, either, but Jennifer Falls is pretty good. It's not a great sitcom, sure, but it's got a good cast and is funny. Jaime Pressly is excellent as the title character. I don't particularly care for the talking to the camera thing or the constant narration but I can deal with it if the show manages to keep up the pilot episode's energy and stays funny.
Jessica Walter, who plays Jennifer's mother Maggie, is the show's only weak link at the moment. Maggie is a little too weird and detached from everything that's going on in the world around her, and I don't think anyone would want to be her patient (she's a psychiatrist or a therapist or something). I think her character would be far more interesting and integral to the show if she was more like the people Jennifer met at the employment office. Jennifer is in the midst of a life crisis, losing everything (her house, her job, her social standing) and she's constantly whining about it. She needs to have someone close to her tell her that she needs to stop whining and figure out what she wants to do next. Maggie should be that person.
Ethan Suplee is great as Jennifer's brother Wayne. I like how he wants to help his sister but he's held back from doing that somewhat by his wife Stephanie (Nora Kirkpatrick), someone who absolutely hates Jennifer. How long will Wayne sort of cower and do what his wife wants? Is Wayne ever going to have a moment where he tells Stephanie to shut up? And how long will it take Stephanie to tell Wayne to shut the hell up right back? I can see that happening at some point.
And where will the whole Dina (Missi Pyle), Jennifer's old best friend and lesbian, thing go?
Jennifer Falls has a good chance to lasting longer than a few episodes. It's funny enough at the moment to keep going. And, if I can be a male pig for a moment here, it won't hurt things if Pressly keeps wearing that skimpy sports bar maid outfit. She looks, well, see for yourself…
See what I mean?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Angie Harmon
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
-Murder 101: This low budget thriller looks very rentable, but I'm confused about what it is we're actually seeing. Is Tom Sizemore the girl's murdered father or is he a cop in a parallel story to whatever the heck the girl is doing? I think it's high time Sizemore got his own low budget movie franchise. I bet people would pay to see him as a sleazy scumbum cop taking on various bad guys.
-Patrick: Evil Awakens: Rachel Griffiths and the great Charles Dance are in this low budget British horror thriller thing that's either a sequel or a remake. I'm going to assume that it's kind of both, but I'm not entirely sure. Anyone out there see this? Is it actually a remake?
-Echo Drive: This low budget sci-fi flick looks like a riff on the excellent Automatic starring Olivier Gruner. I'm shocked that no one in the big budget movie world has tried to do a story similar to Echo Drive. You wouldn't have to have that many locations and the special effects don't look too cumbersome to pull off. Easily rentable.
-Vendetta: Danny Dyer stars in this British badass vigilante movie that, according to imdb.com, already has a sequel. This first movie looks pretty dang cool, and if it is the start of a kind of revenge movie franchise, I am definitely interested. Why the heck don't we get more of this kind of thing from around the world? Why doesn't anyone believe in the low budget franchise anymore?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to the ultra right wing media machine, for repeating ad nausea that recently released American POW Bowe Bergdahl is a traitor, a deserter, and that President Obama should be impeached for cutting a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan because the President agreed to release five captured Taliban leaders. There's no official proof that Bergdahl is a traitor or even a deserter, but that hasn't stopped the machine from "demanding answers" and asking out loud "since when does American negotiate with terrorists?," completely ignoring all of the times that the U.S. and, well, just about every government around the world, has negotiated with terrorists.
But what about those five guys that died looking for Bergdahl? Yeah, what about those five guys that died? Why didn't you complain about that months ago when you were all demanding that the military make a deal to secure Bergdahl's release? Where was your deep concern for those dead guys back then? Exactly.
This whole "controversy" is just political bullshit and it would be great if the "liberal media" would label it as such. But then that would be wrong because that's vicious partisanship. We can't have that, especially when the President hates America (he released military prisoners. No President has ever done that before, and if you don't believe that you're a queer that hates your country).
And then there's the ultra right wing media machine, for allowing convicted felon, traitor, and war criminal Colonel Ollie North to go on TV and, with a straight face, complain about the United States negotiating with terrorists. I mean, come on. Ollie fucking North? Iran-Contra? Seriously? Where the hell was the "liberal media" on this?
This story is proof that there is no such thing as "the liberal media." The truth just doesn't matter at all.
And finally there's the Obama administration, for once again believing that the Republican Party wouldn't try to politicize a profound national moment, like the release of the last American POW in Afghanistan. The administration just can't seem to get that the Republican Party, the conservative movement, and its affiliates can't be trusted and can't be counted on to "come together" for anything. The Republican Party hates you ad wants you out of office and will do and say anything to do so. And if and when the Republicans take over the Senate they will try to impeach you. That will happen. And, unlike the impeachment of Bill Clinton, you can't rely on the Democrats to help you. The Democrats, as usual, are far too busy trying to hide.
Please, for the love of God, Mr. President, figure it out. They don't like you and they're never going to like you. Stop trying to play nice with these douchebags.
Indycar and NASCAR thoughts
The Indycar race at Texas Saturday night was excellent. I didn't get to see the entire race but I saw about two thirds of it and, man, as it a good one. Ed Carpenter won the race, holding off a hard charging Will Power and a strong Juan Pablo Montoya for his third career victory. I didn't think Carpenter had enough speed to get by and hold off Power, who was the class of the field the entire night (Power won the pole). It was cool to see Tony Kanaan have a god night, finishing fourth and running up front for a god chunk of the race.
What the heck happened to Marco Andretti? Heck, what the heck happened to Andretti Autosport? That team's cars never seemed to be all that fast. What changed on their oval package from Indy?
And what the heck was Takuma Sato thinking? Why wasn't his spotter or race strategist freaking out when his car was on fire telling him to get the hell out of the car? It didn't look like Sato was in much of a hurry to get out.
I'm going to have to watch the race in its entirety at some point this week. I recorded it and want to see what the beginning of the race was like. The crowd seemed small, which isn't a god sign for the continuation of this event. The Indycar series can't afford to lose another oval, and Texas has always been a good show. Hopefully track president Eddie Gossage invites the series back and we get another great race in 2015. Again, the series can't afford to lose another oval. It just can't.
The Indycar Series is off until the end of June, when the series returns to the state of Texas for a doubleheader n Houston, June 28th and 29th. Both events will be on the NBC Sports Network.
Over in NASCAR land, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. picked up his second win of the 2014 Sprint Cup season, holding off the dominant Brad Keselowski to secure his place in the Chase for the Championship. Keselowski should have won that race. He had the best car and was essentially untouchable the entire day. Did his crew chief tell him to draft off the back of Danica Patrick's lapped car to try to remove the garbage from his front grill or did Keselowski make that decision on his own? I know that it isn't good to have debris on the grill but with only a handful of laps to go why take yourself out of the lead? If you blow up you blow up. I mean, with the new Chase qualifying format isn't winning races the most important thing?
What the heck happened to Jimmie Johnson? Why did he just die towards the end? And what happened to Denny Hamlin? He finished in the top five and was sort of in contention at the end, but isn't he usually a little more dominant at Pocono?
Kasey Kahne is one lucky guy. He hit the wall twice towards the end of the race, destroying his car after, I guess, losing his brakes. I thought he was knocked out after that hit. And Carl Edwards, who was caught up in that wreck, too, took a hard hit. When is he going to catch a break this year? And where is he going to end up next year? Will Edwards stick with Roush Fenway Racing or will he land somewhere else (Penske has already said it isn't interested I bringing him onboard as the team doesn't have a sponsor)?
I didn't get to see the Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night at Texas, which Matt Crafton won. I have no idea how good or bad it was. I'm going to assume it was, at best, okay, as Texas still isn't a multi-groove track for stock cars.
Sprint Cup races at Michigan this Sunday afternoon. Juan Pablo Montoya will return to NASCAR in a third Team Penske Cup car for that race. The Nationwide Series will also race at Michigan this weekend, racing on Saturday afternoon The Truck Series races on Saturday night at Gateway.
On June 30th he returns...
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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Tuckie White- Lacie Donovan Matt Lucki- Killian Morgan Jake Hames- Jake Zack Hawkins- Ty Alja Jackson- Keisha Jackson Kristina Geddes- Riley Lily Hex- Amanda Jeremy Kahn- Carter John Turk- Sanders Monette McLin- Nurse Daphne Will Clinger- Video Engineer Kirk Anderson- Dr. Detrick Daniel Baldwin- Senator Davis
Directed by David McElroy Screenplay by Marc Menet and David McElroy