Just in case you thought there was no life left in the undead, the new direct-to-video Deadsight is rising up to prove you wrong. Shot for less money than any single episode of The Walking Dead, let alone World War Z, Deadsight is a vivid reminder that zombie apocalypse movies started out as a basement genre for horror filmmakers who didn’t have any money. Lean, mean and totally devoid of irony, this micro-budget movie takes the zombie apocalypse movie back to its roots, and not a moment too soon.
In Deadsight, pregnant police officer Mara Madigan (Liv Collins), on the day before she is due to go on maternity leave, wakes up to the zombie apocalypse. Amidst the chaos and violence, she finds Ben Neilson (Adam Seybold), a man who is virtually blind, helpless, and has a mystery shrouding his past. And so the unlikeliest screen duo since The Defiant Ones have to put their heads together and find a way to survive.
Collins and Seybold are both excellent in this stripped-down hot rod of a horror movie, co-written by Collins and Kevin Revie, and they have to be, since one or both of them are on camera for its entire, lean hour and twenty-nine minute running time. With both protagonists having a serious disadvantage, the audience doesn’t have the now-accepted Walking Dead reassurance that as long as you don’t get surrounded, any grade schooler with a sharp object ought to be able to handle the zombies. Mara can’t run, Ben can’t see what he’s fighting, and between the two, they routinely look like undead h’ors d’oeuvres. Collins and Seybold, clearly smart, talented actors, sell the concept convincingly. Ry Barrett, another veteran of the Ontario horror scene, delivers a scene-stealing performance as one of the few living characters Collins and Seybold encounter on their journey.
Director Jesse Thomas Cook makes the most of a miniscule budget and keeps the scares coming at a respectable clip. Eschewing the over-the-top gross-outs that have characterized the zombie apocalypse genre pretty much from the beginning, Cook nonetheless infuses his action scenes with a no-nonsense savagery that’s at times startlingly intense. The digital cinematography by Jeff Maher is first rate, giving the movie a chilly, autumnal look. (The bare trees and leaf-covered ground of the Ontario locations bear ample evidence to the time of year the movie was shot.)
Deadsight gets off and running quickly, and takes no prisoners right down to its uncompromising finale. This one was made for the purists, and it’s likely to become a fast favorite of zombie apocalypse aficionados, but its appeal is broader than that. It’s a smart, spare horror thriller that knows better than to waste time. Deadsight is dead on.
RLJE Films is releasing Deadsight on DVD, VOD and Digital HD listings for July 2, 2019.