Starring Mark Gibson, Dee Wallace and Bill Moseley

Written and directed by John Geddes

“Admirable” is not the same as “enjoyable” when it comes to independent filmmaking, but it’s enough to earn raves from the horror community, bloodied and bruised as we often are by the sheer incompetence of many of our filmmakers.

Take Exit Humanity. The Canadian-made Western with zombies was recently hailed by Fangoria as “a rare gem that transcends the genre.” That is true, more or less, but it doesn’t stop it from being an overlong, turgid slog marked by awkward performances and poor directing choices despite beautiful cinematography.

Our protagonist is Edward Young (Gibson: Monster Brawl), a Confederate whose soldiering days are cut short by a zombie plague. Six years after the dead rise, Young is alone, his family dead and subsequently undead. Similarly, Edward finds himself struggling to hold onto his own humanity which he feels slipping away with every lonely day and every walker killed. He eventually joins forces with Isaac (Adam Seybold) who is looking for his sister Emma (Jordan Hayes) who has been captured by soldiers still loyal to Confederate General Williams (Moseley).

Young’s quest to lay his son’s ashes to rest is a long one, nearly two hours, and we feel every second. Told in chapters, we very quickly wonder how long it will take to reach the end of this long and winding story. Writer/director John Geddes is to be lauded for making the most of his northern Ontario landscapes and creating a believable, lonesome environment. His passion for the project is apparent, even if he is hampered by a reluctance to self-edit and an inability (or unwillingness) to either direct his actors or give them something interesting to do and say. Dee Wallace acquits herself well enough as a healer/witch with a dark tie to the zombie uprising, but Stephen McHattie (Pontypool) merely harrumphs his way through a cameo as a desperate and possibly mad doctor looking for a cure.

I term this a “Western with zombies” deliberately as the undead, as in most of the most lauded zombie narratives, merely act as a reflection of our own humanity, i.e. how we treat them tells us something of our own human condition. There is flesh eating aplenty, but Geddes’ focus is less on the destruction of a man’s flesh than of his soul.

So while Exit Humanity deserves to be seen, and is a great calling card for Geddes’ talents and determination, it could benefit from a firmer hand on its talent and a more ruthless turn in the editing bay. Here’s hoping he manages to turn admiration into enjoyment on his next venture.

Rating: 3/5


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