If you’ve had your fill of ‘Westworld’ thinkpieces and ‘Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom’ previews, why not take a break with a zombie safari at ‘The ReZort’?
The zombie apocalypse didn’t take. The war that raged between the living and the dead left a body count of some two billion in its wake, but that’s all in the rear-view mirror. Civilization has had the better part of a decade to rebuild, to the point that luxury travel is once again a thing. For those who can swing the extravagant price tag, there’s no hotter destination the world over than the ReZort. This remote island is the last place on the planet where the undead are still shambling around, and the posh resort’s billion-dollar security ensures that it’s entirely safe for its guests to play Zombie Safari Adventure.
Spoiler: It’s not.
Thanks to an overzealous Undead Rights Activist, the gates are opened. The fences are dropped. The shackles are, I dunno, unshackled. Before you can say “Aaaah, I’m being devoured by the walking dead!”, the Brimstone Protocol is activated. In a few short hours, the ReZort will be reduced to smoldering ember. As the clock is quite literally ticking down, the surviving guests have to make it to the dock on the other end of Isla Zombie with no form of transportation and quickly dwindling ammo.
It’s rare enough to find a zombie movie in which the threat of the walking dead has long since been extinguished. Fold that into what’s unabashedly Zombie Jurassic Park, and I’m all in. ‘The ReZort’ lives up to its premise. Admittedly, a post-zombie backdrop means you’re twenty minutes in before you get a proper look at any of the undead, and no one gets a chomp taken out of him until right at the half-hour mark. Still, the world-building is engaging enough to hold my interest even before any viscera gets sloshed around, and the archetypes passing themselves off as characters don’t get in the way too much. No, not even the pair of “Oi, I’d hit dat right off innit bruv” if-LMFAO-were-chimney-sweeps teenaged gamers.
The rules are straight out of the Romero playbook, with the caveat that the newly undead are more nimble than the ReZort’s usual shambling rotters. You know how 60% of gut-muncher movies anymore have a close-up of an undead child who’s unnervingly still before screaming at the camera? Yeah, there’s one of those here, still clutching her bloodied teddy bear. There are the raging pricks who get what’s coming to ’em, a couple of heroic sacrifices, characters who you think might’ve made it out okay but quietly reveal a chomp on the arm, the theoretically shocking swiftness with which our newly-bitten pals will be put out of their misery…
Yeah, you’ve seen a lot of this before, but it’s executed well. The body count is substantial. ‘The ReZort’ is plenty violent and gruesome, though don’t go in expecting to be treated to wildly over-the-top gore. Whether it’s trying to remain undetected in some ‘Hell of the Living Dead‘-esque abandoned hospital or an extended walk through a pitch black corridor that turns out to be a zombie stockyard, silence and darkness are skillfully utilized to amp up the tension. Echoing ‘Land of the Dead‘, there’s a sense that some glimmer of intelligence and soul, however faint, remain in the undead. Speaking of Romero, ‘The ReZort’ indulges in its own sociopolitical commentary, from “Capitalism is the real monster!” to a twist involving the company’s business model that you’ll probably see coming a mile away if you think about the logistics involved.
The resort itself is a great deal of fun: zombies being mounted to swiveling targets on a shooting range, the cackling dichotomy of decomposing flesh-eaters swarming a ritzy hotel, and a chipper, pre-recorded message about “your safari adventure” that’s still playing over the P.A. even when there’s no one living in earshot. The production values are impressively high, including some striking location photography and a real-life luxury resort that seems to have no problem hosting a fictional zombie outbreak. Even as a seasoned veteran of more zombie flicks than I could count, the scale and scope of the final chase still left me in awe.
‘The ReZort’ is streaming on Netflix as I write this, and it’s a $0.99 rental on Amazon Video. If you’re feeling squirrelly, you can also import it on Blu-ray from Germany.