Here at Geeks With Wives and more specifically the Geeks on Screen, we cover a lot of different types of movies and tv shows. Today I sat down and watched something different, which happens to be a specialty of mine; I watched a short film called Super Zero: Badass Journey Into Zombie Awesomeness. Having gone to film school and made a few short films myself, I appreciated this short quite a bit for what they pull off.
This short felt like a proof of concept that the Writer/Director Mitch Cohen came up with to show us that the zombie genre hasn’t been completely played out yet. Where shows like The Walking Dead and a dozen other films cover the gory, gritty and realistic zombie apocalypse, this short takes the same road as Zombieland and Sean of the Dead by making it a satire of the genre. While it’s easily comparable to those films because of the humor, Cohen added a few touches that set it apart from them as well.
The lead character Josh, who is played by Umberto Celisano (The Changing of Ben Moore), is the typical awkward genius twenty-something who likes to invent and can build fantastical things in his garage, but when he finds out he has terminal brain cancer he decides to give up on life… but that’s when life gives up on him. When a bit of a space shuttle that was returning from Mars crash lands in the middle of his city, it releases a bit of the Borealis Pathogenic Virus aka “life from Mars”. Well this virus turns people into zombies, but thanks to Josh’s brain cancer, the virus and the zombies seem to think he’s already dead.
Josh runs into a few supporting characters including his school crush, her cousin who is kind of a douche and a used-to-be kids party clown who are all fighting to survive the zombie invasion. Josh uses his technological genius to create weapons to help fight against the zombie horde, which makes these three accept him and also makes him kind of a bad ass.
While the acting, dialog and realism isn’t super believable, the lighter tone of the film make it all work. The characters act quite nonchalant about everything that’s happening, which helps keep the film non-grounded (which is the opposite of most zombie films). I could pick out a few things in the film that aren’t realistic or could be reshot, but because of the satirical nature of the film, those kind of criticisms don’t really apply. The main character is pretty upbeat and seems to enjoy the irony of his condition keeping him alive (for now) where it normally spells death.
I like the choice of supporting characters that were written in here as well. You got the love interest, that goes way back in the main characters past, named Paige. She seems like she’s taking the zombie invasion pretty well since she’s had her cousin Nate to keep her alive. In this short you don’t actually see Paige fight, which is a shame but I feel like if this short were made into a show or full feature that they could develop her character a bit more. Nate was the typical jock character who seems to know how to handle himself pretty well. He doesn’t take very kindly to strangers so it makes him come off as kind of a douche bag, but he brings a different dynamic to the cast that is needed. When you first see him, you assume he’s competition for the main character when it comes to wooing Paige, but the fact that he’s her cousin (in most States) makes that a non-issue. The last character Gary aka Chuckles the Clown adds the humor to the group. Josh has his funny moments, but it’s Gary that really keeps the mood lighter for us watching. Also, there would be nothing better than to watch a guy dressed as a clown, hack up zombies with a butcher knife!
With the well written group of characters and a concept for a lighter zombie tale, where the main character is a poor man’s Tony Stark with zombie immunity, I think this short could really go places. Sean of the Dead and Zombieland were stand outs because they took on the zombie genre in a different way, and I think Super Zero pulls it off just as well. While brain cancer is a serious topic, I feel like Super Zero could manage to fill a few seasons as a television series before having to address the more serious sides of his condition. The zombies in this weren’t ultra-realistic like in The Walking Dead, but with a full budget that wouldn’t be an issue. Plus, most zombie shows and movies design their own brand of zombie. This short’s brand looked more iZombie than Evil Dead.
As someone who actually hates most things zombie (I just hate the bleakness and desperation of most zombie films not to mention the gore), by the end of this short I was left wanting more. It turned out to be more of a makeshift superhero film like Kick-Ass or Super, but in a zombie infested setting. It sets up the story quite well and leaves you with a line that gave me a chill down my spine… but in a good way! I’d love for this short to be turned into something bigger whether it be a movie, show or even comic book. Mitch Cohen and team have really found something special here so please join me in supporting their short on YouTube which you can watch in full here:
You can also check it out on imdb and rate/comment there. Short films like indie games and comics need fan support to become something more, so tell all your zombie loving friends and family about this one!