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The Rezort

Year: 2015
Production Co: LWH Entertainment
Director: Steve Barker
Writer: Paul Gerstenberger
Cast: Jessica De Gouw, Martin McCann, Dougray Scott

I've said it before and hopfully I'll keep saying it for a long time yet – what else can storytellers possibly do with zombies? While The Walking Dead and the classics of the genre like Night of the Living Dead continue to ensure the popularity of the genre, very imaginative takes on zombie lore like Colin, It Stains the Sands Red and now The Rezort ensure the field receives regular innovative shots in the arm.

It's the same world we know from countless other zombie stories after the virus has swept across humanity, but instead of a wasteland of struggling fiefdoms, the majority survivors have succeeded in fighting the virus and its effects back and reclaimed the cities. Most of what remains of the undead are confined to an island owned by a powerful resort corporation that shares the land with a war refugee processing camp as it treats tourists to holidays of swimming, eating, drinking trips out into the forested interior to hunt hordes of hungry undead shuffling about.

On what seems to be a very small budget, The Rezort does two things incredibly well. First, it uses clever editing and effects to make itself look much bigger and more expensive than it is. But more effective is the tone wrangled by director Steve Barker. It's not just like a brilliantly staged mash-up of Dawn of the Dead and Jurassic Park, it feels every inch like the latter, right down to the polo-shirted guides leading their trigger happy clientele around jungle trails and abandoned townships in jeeps.

As the smiling handlers follow a group of posturing manchildren through dusty streets and zombies chained to platforms swing out of windows into view for everyone's machine gunning pleasure, it seems like exactly what the real world version of The Rezort would feel like.

And like every good zombie story, it introduces a small group of disparate strangers, throws them together and shakes it all up with horror set pieces to see who can stay alive. The protagonist is Ellie (Jessica De Gouw), who suffers PTSD after the war that took the world back from the zombies and figures blowing a few of them away with automatic weapons might help her come to terms with it. Accompanied by boyfriend Lewis (Martin McCann), a former soldier from the zombie war, they find themselves teamed up with a stoic alpha male (Dougray Scott), two videogame obsessed teenagers, a mysterious woman with a secret mission and more.

Not only is the set-up much like Jurassic Park, the story is too – after a failure in the park systems, zombies run amuck while Ellie, Lewis and the gang are out on an overnight camp. As they try desperately to make it back to the resort, things crumble worse than anyone could have hoped. The nerve centre of the island is in disarray, zombies running everywhere and the staff having initiated the emergency measure of destroying the whole island in a nuclear apocalypse.

But while the story by scriptwriter Paul Gerstenberger doesn't do anything particularly groundbreaking with zombie mythology, it all fits so comfortably into a mould we've never seen it, evoking moods and visuals from a classic film in a whole other genre.

It has just the right amount of everything you want and expect – from bood and gore to authentic emotion – and if you're still waiting for zombies to lose their standing in pop culture because of oversaturation, stories like The Rezort prove we might be waiting a long while yet.

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