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One Movie Punch

Jan 29, 2020

Hi everyone!

It’s Episode 700!

Thank you all so much for your support since 2018! One Movie Punch has always been a labor of love, and today’s episode is no exception. In fact, today’s film might have required a bit more labor and a little less love to get through, and write, but here it is. You might be wondering why I would be covering a movie like today’s film, and at least in this case, it’s because this film co-stars Kyle Hester, who I had the pleasure of interviewing last year for his role in THE CHAIR (Episode #550), along with a two-part exclusive interview on THE CHAIR, PREACHER SIX, and other projects, including ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN. It’s very low-budget. It’s very independent. And it’s got problems... but also some very interesting ideas.

Before the review, we’ll have a promo for the Super Media Bros. They were part of last year’s Big Heads Media Takeover, reviewing CLOVERFIELD (Episode #519), which you should definitely check out. I’m throwing their promo on this episode because this film is right up their alley for their Cult Cinema Showdown segment. I’m also kind of hoping they come back on the podcast for Takeover Tuesday, but don’t let them know that! You can find them on Twitter @SuperMediaBros_, Facebook @SuperMediaBros, and Instagram @supermediabrospodcast. If you love cult cinema, and the more obscure corners of the media universe, let Midnight Agent Raw and Okami guide you!

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Here we go!




Today’s movie is ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN(2019), the film adaptation of the cult web series written and directed by creator Hilton Ariel Ruiz. The film follows Aaron Walker (Braeden Baade), a man infected with a zombie virus which his body is somehow fighting off, along with his shotgun, played by, well, a shotgun. He’s on the run with his girlfriend Rachael Young (Kathryn Kuhn), who may know more about his condition than she realizes. And there’s black magic, ruined buildings, soft focus softcore love scenes, and friend of the podcast, Kyle Hester.

No spoilers.

I was drawn to ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN because this film has two of my favorite film plot devices: zombies and shotguns. My love of zombies was nurtured in large part by George Romero’s groundbreaking work, and developed more recently by “The Walking Dead”, “Z Nation” and the explosion in zombie-related content that has followed. One of those corners of the zombie world has been Ruiz’s largely fan-supported independent intellectual property “Zombie with a Shotgun”, which has been adapted as an experimental web series in 2012, and more recently as a comic book through Rats & Crows Publishing in 2017, intended as a companion to today’s feature film adaptation.

My love of shotguns was born, hilariously, during Tarantino and Rodriguez’s “Grindhouse” double-billing, when a trailer for a fake film called HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN was played, but then eventually picked up and produced for home markets, an homage to the exploitation microbudget films of yesteryear. My love was nurtured with a three-year obsession with Destiny on PlayStation, where I both loved using and hated being taken out by the close quarters weapon. I’m not an ammosexual by any means, but there’s something about shotguns in films that imply a lot more than the scene would suggest.

So, put the two together, and you would think you’d have a hit.

Unfortunately, ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN begins with my least favorite plot device, in media res, which literally translates  to “in the middle of things”, and that’s where we end up, not just with an opening flash forward to a standoff between the authorities and said zombie with said shotgun, but then a flash back to Aaron and Rachael on the run. The film acts as a combination reboot and continuation of the web series, featuring the same lead male, but a new lead female. I suspect the film rewards more than frustrates fans with these opening moments, especially if they know the lore.

For the uninitiated, the film only makes a semblance of sense about two-thirds of the way in. We do get pieces of the story along the way, sometimes in further flashbacks, like some weird and unexplained sexual satanic ritual with some sort of connection to the zombie virus, or the odd scene that targets the bizarre relationship between Aaron and Rachel, who apparently still engage quite frequently in physical intimacy. Ruiz marketed this film as one that would throw out all the rules for zombie films, but when it comes to world building, you can’t break rules without establishing other ones, which we desperately need early on.

Storytelling choices aside, the film also struggles with the multiple curses that come with low budget cinema. Film quality is inconsistent, with high-resolution drone shots smashed up against lower-resolution camera shots. Sound is inconsistent, sometimes competing with ambient noise. And yet, the film still has a hypnotic feel to it, a combination of tantalizing scenes injected to re-engage interest, along with a sense that we’re going to end up somewhere. And we do end up somewhere, with a decent introduction to the world, but it’s only an introduction, and that’s what makes the film ultimately disappointing.

ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN needs a lot of work to unlock the obvious potential in the property. More storytelling and world building up front. More consistent production levels. Definitely step away from the soft focus softcore scenes, until they can be relevant to the feature. I think I’m so harsh on this because I see so much more potential, which can explore this weird kind of zombie romance art-house vibe in the same way that 2015’s MAGGIE was able to do with zombies and the parent/child relationship. I want to see this franchise find a larger audience, because we still have a lot of territory to explore with zombies, and despite its flaws, the film has the potential to tell so much more.

ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN is a low-budget adaptation of a cult intellectual property, which deserves a larger budget and better production. What this film lacks, however, is compensated by the interesting idea, which managed to captivate this zombie film fan all the way to the abrupt ending. It is definitely not a perfect film, but it has a lot of potential, and a few interesting ideas worth future exploration.

Rotten Tomatoes: NR

Metacritic: NR

One Movie Punch: 4.3/10

ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN (2019) is not rated and is currently playing on Amazon Prime.