Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead (2011) DVD Review

Dir. Douglas Schulze         91 mins
Anchor Bay
UK Release: 21st October 2013

The concept of a film where life imitates art for a group of horror fans I find very appealing indeed, and that’s exactly what director Douglas Schulze has attempted to do here will an impressive level of success.

We begin in a farm presumably in a town just outside Pittsburgh (!) where we find a farmer tending to his scarecrow, before heading back inside (NOTLD plays on the TV) and discovering his wife in the bedroom being eaten by a zombie. Post-credits were inside a horror convention listening to Sid Haig telling an audience about the nature of violence, and how people are very quick to apportion blame to easy targets such as horror movies instead of focusing on the individual person responsible. It’s a very incisive point, and there remains an air of social commentary throughout the film.

In the audience are the key players in the movie, Duane (Allen Maldonado) and Russell (Taylor Piedmonte) who are joined by Judith (Lauren Mae Shafer). She invites them to a ‘secret’ party at an isolated location later that evening where after some socialising they find themselves drugged so they pass out. Russell awakes the next morning noticing that he’s a) had a change of clothes to a 60s era suit and b) is lying next to a blonde that he’s not familiar with. With a zombie shuffling towards him, it appears that Russell has awoken in the opening scene of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

MIM-002Whereas you may think that that’s the concept of the movie – just an ironic way to remake NOTLD, it does indeed have ideas far loftier than you’d imagine. Once in the abandoned farmhouse we’re soon introduced to the other players in the movie who whilst all retaining their ‘real life’ personalities, all have striking similarities to the characters from the 1968 movie. However, not only are some of them familiar with the movie, but also the destiny that awaits everybody in the house. Can they change film history? Or are they fated to repeat the events of Romero’s classic?

This is simply a genius idea that has been brilliantly executed on a relatively small budget ($500k). It’s a horror movie made for horror nerds by horror nerds. The premise is just fantastic, and manages to breeze along whilst remaining inventive for its duration. Several dimensions are appealing in the film, from the question of what they must do in order to survive ‘the movie’, to trying to figure out what they are actually apart of.

Some people have criticised the use of NOTLD as its backbone, citing how its taking advantage of Romero as the movie is (criminally) in the public domain, meaning George doesn’t receive a dime. At the risk of sounding dismissive, that’s just one of those things and I’ve no doubt that these filmmakers had any intention of riding on Romero’s coattail’s for financial gain. That’s just lunacy.

MIM-003Granted, this movies appeal won’t stretch right across the horror fanatics spectrum, and it could well end up being quite a niche curio – but, irrespective of who’ll ‘get it’, Mimesis is such an original movie that will hopefully find an appreciative audience.

8 out of 10

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