×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

War of the Dead

Finally premiering more than four years after principal photography wrapped, "War of the Dead" arrived in time to play Toronto's After Dark fest alongside "Exit Humanity," another movie placing zombie action in a wartime historical context.

With:
With: Andrew Tiernan, Mikko Leppilampi, Samuel Vauramo, Juoko Ahola, Jouko Ahola, Mark Wingett, Andreas Wilson, Antti Reini, Magdalena Gorska. (English dialogue)

Finally premiering more than four years after principal photography wrapped, “War of the Dead” arrived in time to play Toronto’s After Dark fest alongside “Exit Humanity,” another movie placing zombie action in a wartime historical context. The slicker and more expensive of the two, Finn helmer Marko Makilaakso’s English-language, Lithuania-shot bigscreen debut is muscular if a little one-dimensional, without much human interest or scariness to flavor what’s basically one long military shootout. Taken as a straightforward actioner, it’s diverting if unmemorable, with solid prospects for homevid sales in most territories. Theatrical exposure will be spotty.

Prologue reveals Nazi “anti-death” medical experiments performed on captured Russian soldiers early during WWII. Two years later, in 1941, allied Finn and American forces are on a mission to seize an enemy bunker on the Finnish-Soviet border. First they are decimated by a Russian ambush (before the U.S.S.R. switched from its tenuous Axis association to committed Allied allegiance); then survivors are further reduced by an attack from the undead, flesh-hungry victims of those experiments. By the half-hour point, only Yank officer Stone (Andrew Tiernan), Finn Laasko (Mikko Leppilampi) and Russian grunt Kolya (Samuel Vauramo) remain to battle the nonstop onslaught. Much machine gunning ensues, en route to and inside the abandoned secret Nazi project’s underground HQ.

Protags’ trigger-happy offensive against scores of uniformed zombies (despite the undead’s superior speed, strength and resilience) makes the pic feel more like a “Rambo” movie than like a horror meller. It certainly doesn’t have much in the way of atmosphere, dread or “boo!” moments, despite the polished if undistinctive visuals and score.

The testosterone-laden proceedings don’t give the competent thesps much opportunity to develop character, and the script (co-written by Makilaakso with veteran producer Barr Potter) leaves the basic premise undeveloped beyond something on which to hang a series of busy but interchangeable action sequences; simply put, more plot would have helped. Fadeout suggests a desire to set up “War of the Dead” as first in an ongoing horror-combat action series a la “Underworld.”

Packaging-wise at least, the end product shows no sign of the numerous production woes the pic purportedly endured, including late changes of cast and funding.

War of the Dead

Italy-Lithuania

Production: A Little Film Co., Rialto Intl., Lithuanian Film Studios and Media One Entertainment production. (International sales: Accelerator, Studio City.) Produced by Barr Potter, Ramunas Skikas. Executive producers, Alessandro Fracassi, Robbie Little. Co-producer, Marko Makilaakso, Joel Soisson. Directed by Marko Makilaakso. Screenplay, Makilaakso, Barr B. Potter, from a story by Makilaakso.

Crew: Camera (color), Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen; editor, Michael J. Duthie; music, Neal Acree, Joel Goldsmith; production designer, Algis Garbaciauskas; art directors, Darius Bastys, Kari Kankaanpaa, Audrius Dumikas; set decorator, Daila Pranckenaite; costume designer, Daiga Rybakoviene; visual effects supervisor, Chad Goei; assistant director, Boris Taskov; casting, Donatas Simukauskas, Laura Munsterhelm. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Nov. 11, 2011. (In Toronto After Dark Film Festival.) Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Andrew Tiernan, Mikko Leppilampi, Samuel Vauramo, Juoko Ahola, Jouko Ahola, Mark Wingett, Andreas Wilson, Antti Reini, Magdalena Gorska. (English dialogue)

More Film

  • European Union Placeholder

    European Parliament Gives Final Approval to Controversial Article 13 Copyright Directive

    The European Parliament on Tuesday gave final approval to Article 13, a controversial part of a wider directive that shakes up the rules around copyright in the European Union. The new rules will have ramifications for online platforms, content owners and creators, and the general public. The proposed new framework, now approved, has sparked widespread [...]

  • Fox Disney Layoffs

    Fox Studio Quickly Fades Away as Disney Starts Work on Integration

    In the waning days of 21st Century Fox, there was a run on the searchlight. As Disney neared the completion of its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, employees on the Fox lot rushed into the studio’s gift shop to pick up mugs, shot glasses, sweatshirts, hats and T-shirts emblazoned with 20th Century Fox’s [...]

  • Small Theaters Struggle to Survive in

    Inside Indie Movie Theaters' Battle to Survive

    Nestled at the foot of a large hill on the edge of downtown Providence, R.I., Cable Car Cinema was known to local moviegoers as ”the one with the couches.” That was a charitable description. They were love seats, really — perfect if you were with a date but awkward if you went to see a [...]

  • Nadine Labaki

    Cannes: Nadine Labaki to Head Un Certain Regard Jury

    Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki has been named president of the jury for Un Certain Regard in Cannes. The Festival said Labaki had been chosen after “moving hearts and minds at the last Festival de Cannes with her Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated ‘Capernaum,’ which won the Jury Prize.” More Reviews Concert Review: Yoko Ono Earns [...]

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Unveils Four More French Originals, 'Gims,' 'Anelka,' 'Move,' 'Of Earth And Blood'

    As it prepares to open a fully-staffed office in France and ramp up its investment in local originals, Netflix has unveiled three new documentaries, “Move” (working title), “Gims” (working title), and “Anelka” (working title), and the feature film “Of Earth And Blood” while at Series Mania in Lille. Announced during a panel with Netflix’s commissioning [...]

  • Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home

    Film News Roundup: Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home for Christmas'

    In today’s film news roundup, “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” is in the works, the NFL has made a documentary about female team owners and D Street Pictures has signed Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to direct the dance feature “Move.” HOLIDAY PROJECT More Reviews Concert Review: Yoko Ono Earns a Wide-Ranging, All-Female Salute [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content