Director – Glenn R. Miller, Screenplay – Scotty Mullen, Producer – David Michael Latt, Photography – Bryan Koss, Music – Christopher Cano, Visual Effects Supervisor – Emile Edwin Smith, Production Design – Allison Schenker. Production Company – The Asylum
Kim Nielsen (Dr Ellen Rogers), Andrew Asper (Gage), Ione Butler (Leslie ‘Lizzie’ Hogan), Lala Nestor (Thea), Marcus Anderson (Rex), Brianna Chomer (Amber), Aaron Groben (AJ), Isaac Anderson (Ricky), Tammy Klein (Chelsea), Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau (Daxton), Will McMichael (Boris), Reuben Uy (TY), Ivan Djurovic (Kifo), Cedric Jonathan (Johnny), Joe Conti (Monte), Noa Pharaoh (Dr Gordon), Jennifer Titus (Robin), Michael Delgado (Gus)
Ellen Rogers manages the Eden Wildlife Zoo that has been owned by several generations of her family. She is preparing a new bunch of interns for the reopening. However, something is turning the animals into zombies. First the monkeys turn on and attack the staff. The infection spreads to other animals and soon all of the staff in the park are at siege from zombie animals.
The Asylum is a company specialising in low-budget films that come out mimicking the titles of big-budget, high-profile releases in the hopes that punters won’t look too closely or notice the difference. It is a strategy they call ‘mockbusters’ and has produced titles such as Snakes on a Train (2006), Transmorphers (2007), Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls (2008), The Day the Earth Stopped (2008), The 18 Year Old Virgin (2009), Paranormal Entity (2009), Battle of Los Angeles (2011), Age of the Hobbits (2012) and others.
Outside of their mockbusters, The Asylum are mostly known for their gonzo shark films – Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009), 2-Headed Shark Attack (2012), Sharknado (2013) and various sequels to these. The gonzo zombie film has been legion throughout the latter half of the 00s and into the 2010s, ranging from Zombie Strippers! (2008) through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) and countless others. Perhaps figuring the zombie film is an overworked vein, The Asylum have ventured into it only occasionally with efforts such as Night of the Dead “Leben Tod” (2006), Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies (2012), Rise of the Zombies (2012), Zombie Apocalypse (2012) and the tv series Z Nation (2014– ), all of which were played seriously.
Previously, The Asylum had reasonable success with Zombeavers (2014), which combined the idea of zombies and mutant beavers. The same kind of thinking extends here where The Asylum has clearly obtained the use of a zoo and then conceived a film based around it. No explanation is ever offered for what is causing the animals to become zombies. Essentially, what we have is a variant on Jurassic Park (1993) with the staff of the facility (no guests by the look of it) running around trying to avoid being attacked by optically-inserted animals.
The film works with variable effect. The opening scenes with the zombie monkeys have a ferocity that is undeniably effective. And once he gets the animals on the attack, director Glenn R. Miller does so with bloody enthusiasm. There are some good scenes where lions and elephants have been digitally inserted up against the actors. On the other hand, there are undeniable corners cut. Some of the attacks only consist of a camera eye point-of-view rushing at the actors accompanied by a screeching on the soundtrack. The big climactic explosion contains some incredibly shoddy opticals. And the film’s credibility starts to sink from about the point we get the cast facing off against zombie giraffes and parrots where you cannot help but think the tongue-in-cheek approach of The Asylum’s gonzo shark films would have worked far better than the serious-mindedness with which everyone here plays it.
One must also commend Kim Nielsen who plays the lead role. She plays strong, in charge and intelligent – someone I’d be interested to see what else she does. Although, while she is clearly the central character, for reasons unknown she is fourth-billed in the cast, while the lead given to the far more anonymous performance given by Ione Butler who is definitely in the supporting category.
Glenn R. Miller was a former assistant director on numerous films for The Asylum and other companies. He made his directorial debut with the Found Footage horror The Bell Witch Haunting (2013), followed by The Co-Ed and the Zombie Stoner (2014) and Santa Claws (2014), all for The Asylum. He has also developed the premise of Zoombies out as the videogame Escape from the Zoombies (2016).