Dead Season starts off in territory that is all too familiar in all too many zombie films. Society has collapsed, the Earth has been taken over by zombies, and our two main characters, Elvis and Tweeter (Scott Peat and Marissa Merrill), are leaving the United States to find the “promised land” where survival might be a pipe dream but it’s about the only dream they have left. This so-called promised land ends up being a remote tropical island that is, unsurprisingly, far from deserted, and it isn’t long before Elvis and Tweeter run into a small group of survivors running a typical military style survival operation.
Tweeter and Elvis reluctantly join the camp and eventually start to contribute, but there’s something not right with this situation; something unethical that is meant to challenge both the characters and the viewer alike, asking how far can and will you go in the name of survival. This underlying secret is pretty easy to figure out as the clues given aren’t challenging, but it does lead to a few interesting situations that are well-played out despite being familiar and predictable. And that might be where the one issue with Dead Season lies: it’s a zombie film, and we’re at a point where we’ve seen about as many original ideas as there are ever going to be, so it’s quite difficult to do something that hasn’t been done before.
With that said, despite the fact that there’s a level of familiarity with Dead Season, what it does do right completely makes up for it’s predictability. The characters are well written, and the acting is, for the most part, very good, especially considering that this is a low-budget zombie movie. The film is more focused on the characters than it is the zombies themselves, something that is pretty much the case for some of the best zombie films the genre has to offer. The biggest standout with Dead Season, however, has to be the filmmaking. The camerawork on display is quite fantastic, impressively capturing the gorgeous locations in a way that makes the film’s director, Adam Deyoe, a filmmaker to keep an eye out for.
Of course, regardless of the fact that Dead Season is more of a character driven film, we are still talking about a zombie movie here, and how the zombies (or “walkers,” as they are referred to as) are handled is important. The zombies are, for the most part, slow, shambling zombies, which is nice to see. It does becomes apparent later on, however, that the fresher they are the faster they go, something that amps up the tension in the film’s finale as well as pulls in the best of both (the slow and fast) worlds. The zombie makeup is simple and classic looking, and there is a fair amount of blood and guts, though they never go too far over-the-top at any point, which keeps with the film’s serious tone.
The zombie subgenre has, for many years, been the most over saturated subgenre, and for every great zombie flick that shambles out, 20 awful ones come pouring in right behind it. While it suffers from a lack of originality, Dead Season is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when there is care put into production values and building strong characters who are given the time to develop and evolve.