Dead Air (2009) – By Baron Craze

There’s quite a few firsts for this zombie film, namely coming from director Corbin Bernsen (yes, the L.A. Law actor and who has done a fair share of horror film, now stepping behind the lens), using the first time horror  script from Kenny Yakkel,  to create a social dynamic movie, with comparisons to Pontypool (2008).  The completely saving grace of this film comes from talents of legendary horror star Bill Moseley, giving drama filled fluid dialogue as DJ, who’s facing unprecedented news reporting with striking similarities to Howard Stern.

Bill, portrays an ego chest thumping king of the airwaves, Logan Burnhardt, with a pompous mentality, and his staff’s job lies in supporting his rye jokes, and insulting demeanor to call-in guests, though the substance of this night of terror battle his own personal issues and demons. This evening’s topic surrounds paranoia and the fakery of the Taj Mahal, involving falsehoods riling the masses into committing outrageous concepts for their own benefits, typical aspects for the shock jock, filled with insults of all types of portions. Accompany, Bill’s character in the studio, Gil (David Moscow) as likely comrade, with a passion for comedy to play opposite of an imposing smooth talking scene-stealer Logan. In addition, rounding his crew, soundboard engineer Burt (Joshua Feinman and his station manager Lucy (Patricia Tallman) both who provide excellent pushback against Bill scenes, and his intensity.  Soon enough news broadcasts enter into the sanctum of the studio, of terrorist bombings at a sporting event, and the sense of panic fills the room, and mirrors those, which occurred in real life on September 11, 2001. This showed great focus from Corbin, and holds the attention of the viewer, as mixed broadcasts on infections surface having the shifts emotions to the concerns of families. The attack has callers blaming one group for the incident, and their most passionate dedicated fan, Vernon (Larry Drake, of Dr. Giggles and from the alum of L.A. Law) provoking more incinerating language.  Lastly, another colleague from Corbin’s famed law series comes from Susan Ruttan in the form of a zombie secretary in the accounting department. As the contagion spreads in the air, the infection it causes activities through bleeding eyes, and other orifices, and consequently becomes a flesh-tearing maniac, as oppose the term zombie.

The zombie creation, the viewers learn occurs across the country in major cities, through a biological dirty bombs, and yet the movie sets itself to a higher level and later becomes more preaching, social condemning of hatred among religious factions in society. Here, again, the dynamic structures in the zombie sub-genre, the radio station personnel as was the television crew in Dawn of the Dead (1978) concern for their lives and families, and less of understanding the panic and reporting properly. Then again, no one could set blame upon, them, when crisis occurs in real life, many individuals make immediate calls to check on love ones, and while George A. Romero passionately pleads that avenue, Corbin lacks the conviction. In addition, Bernsen, who had limited experience as a director, but not in the horror genre, the concepts laid out in the script never make the impact on the screen. The cinematography leaves much desire, the zombies (or maniacs) never truly show the gut-munching scenes, almost as if prepped for the small screen of television broadcast. The overall film lacks the scares, the tense moments generate quickly yet never last very long, and multiple questionable cuts occurred throughout the production, eliminating the actor’s exchange of emotions. The few minor moments of horror, actually occur through a chase sequence involving character Gil, and his hero moment to rescue Logan’s family, and yet again, the explicit violence grows smaller, hence reducing suspense greatly, the complete opposite sought in a horror film.

In the entire scope of the zombie genre, with all sorts of plot lines and Dead Air, still holds some positive ground, and opens the avenue to the new and real life threat of dirty bombs, terrorists, the fear gathering attention in news media and from shock jocks, signaling alarms for more horror in this direction. Moseley’s performance, makes this film a must see, as he covers a full spectrum of emotions, from caring to angered fueled rage.  

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0993841
http://www.deadair-movie.com