I picked this one out solely because I saw Martin Freeman in the still frame promoting the movie on Netflix. I didn’t know what the movie was about, but it didn’t look like the roles I had seen him in before. Maybe he’s done more characters like this, but I had him pegged as the comic relief since I’m most familiar with work in The Office, Watson, and Hitchhikers Guide.
Turns out this was a zombie movie, and not one of the spoof comedic zombie movies. The world has lost most of its population, there’s been a global plague that’s wiped out millions and the survivors are spread few and far between. The illness is very contagious, like most zombie movies, and it’s spread through bites – again not that atypical. What was weird is that the zombies go through a phase where they start digging into the ground, then bury their heads and stay in a sort of stasis until disturbed. Orange sticky goop will leak from the eyes, nose, and mouth and the blood will take on a different consistency. They lose all sentience and become extremely feral running in groups after anything they consider prey. The illness takes 72 hours to set in so the victim has a long time to ponder their fate, or alternatively, there are ‘medical devices’ that were given out that are essentially suicide wands – a sharp and thick spring-loaded needle will shoot out at the press of a button. If you place it on your temple it kills you quickly and painlessly.
Martin Freeman and his wife have managed to survive and they have a small daughter with them. They were living on a houseboat cruising down the river looking for abandoned boats and houses to loot for food and potable water. One thing leads to another and both Martin and his wife have been bitten, his wife dies though, leaving him alone, infected and trying to find a safe haven for his daughter. He has 72 hours from his infection to find someone who could raise a baby and given there are so few people left his chances are slim. There are points he considers killing himself and his daughter to spare her from suffering, the tone is pretty bleak and dark, you don’t really know if he’s going to find someone who would be willing to raise her, or not.
The acting was really well done, but I haven’t been disappointed by Freeman before so that’s not that surprising. There were a few child actors as well, and sometimes they take me out of the moment if they aren’t talented enough to pull off a more serious role, but I thought the kids in this were fine.
I liked the setting, Australia isn’t something I see often in movies and I almost never see aboriginals represented in anything that makes it to mainstream American media. It gets point for originality there, but not so much the main plot.
For being a zombie movie this wasn’t a ton of jump out scares or fast-paced action. A lot of it was slower and more melancholy rather than in your face zombie hordes. Since he was alone much of the time there were periods of silence and downtime as you watched him struggle with what to do next.
Overall this was a good movie, not great, but not eye rolling and terrible either. It seems there’s a bit of division of opinion if you look at IMDB vs Rotten Tomatoes. There were a few plot holes and things that lowered the score, things like kissing his daughter when he’s infected which should most likely cause her to get infected too.
I’d rate it a 7/10