DVD Review: Osombie

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DVD Review: Osombie / Cert: 15 / Director: John Lyde / Screenplay: Kurt Hale / Starring: Corey Sevier, Eve Mauro, Jasen Wade, Danielle Chuchran, William Rubio / Release Date: May 14th

Osama Bin Laden rises from the dead as a flesh-eating ghoul and threatens the free world with a zombie apocalypse. You’ve got to be kidding, right? Actually no, that’s the premise of Osombie (tag line ‘Axis of the Evil Dead’) the latest of a raft of recent zombie movies (Juan of the Dead, Bong of the Dead) released to DVD, and, political misgivings aside, Osombie - as zombie movies go - is really rather good.

Dusty, a yoga instructor from Colorado, is on a desperate rescue mission in the middle east to save her brother Derek, a conspiracy theorist (and ex-fireman who survived the 9/11 attacks) who is convinced Osama Bin Laden is still alive, despite having been buried at sea. In Afghanistan, Dusty falls in with a team of NATO special forces on a secret assignment, and it turns out Derek is not so crazy at all. Infected by a biological weapon agent that turns its victims into the living dead, Osama has returned from his watery grave to create a secret army of zombie insurgents. When the group crashes headlong into the growing zombie apocalypse, Dusty and the troops must find and destroy the root of the zombie insurgency before it infests the rest of the world. They must kill Bin Laden again.

Scriptwriter Kurt Hale plays the scenario straight, without any trace of political satire or irony, making Osombie gung-ho, jingoistic nonsense all the way. But skilful direction by John Lyde raises Osombie way above the usual standard of cheap exploitation, at times giving bigger budget efforts like The Hurt Locker and The Green Zone a run for their money. Cinematographer Airk Thaughbaer effortlessly makes Utah (where Osombie was filmed) look like the Afghan desert, and adopts some of the stylistic devices of Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar winner during the combat sequences. Thaughbaer also edited the film, and, with the exception of one or two dialogue-heavy scenes, Osombie is fast-paced action for all of its ninety minutes. The performances are excellent too – including by Corey Sevier, a Colin Farrell look-alike who spends much of the film shirtless and ripped. Danielle Chuchran, as Tomboy, plays the deadliest woman with a sword since Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Heads roll, so do arms and legs and all other manner of body parts, courtesy of visual effects artist Clark Edmunds, who also provides CGI planes and helicopters that many a high budget Hollywood production would die for.

Hale’s screenplay is also pretty good. We actually care about the characters (helped by the actors who keep it real throughout). The death scenes of the individual marines (a staple in any zombie or war movie!) are surprisingly poignant. There are also some great action set pieces. To be fair, Hale does make an effort not to offend the Muslim faith in the film. The zombie insurgents are clearly meant to represent the Taliban and not the Afghan people or Muslims in general. Still, it’s hard not to see its zombie virus threating to ‘infest’ the rest of the world as representing the fear of the spread of Islam. Bin Laden himself doesn’t actually feature that much in the film, but remains an elusive bogeyman, much as he did in real life. As one reviewer commented: ‘Osombie fulfils a fantasy for many of us – killing m*therf**ing Bin Laden again’. Therein, I suspect, lies the appeal of Osombie.

Osombie, then, probably won’t do much to further diplomatic relations between the Muslim world and the West, but thanks to its non-stop carnage and some great military combat, zombie fans – and readers of Andy McNab – will love it.

Special Features: None

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