Dorm of the Dead (2009) – By Duane L. Martin

Will (Aaron Sosa) went to college mostly to get away from his parents’ constant fighting, but once there, he discovered that college had a lot more to offer than education, including girls, parties, more girls, more parties, hangovers, etc….  Everything was going fine until everyone came back from vacation with their usual illnesses and his fifteen year old brother showed up to stay with him while their parents were on a cruise to try to patch things up.  Now Will’s got a brother to look after that he forgot was coming even though he’d been told five times, and his roommate is laying in his bunk sick as hell.  Since this is a zombie movie, you can probably figure out what happens next.  His roommate complains of being cold in a 90 degree room and shuffles off to the bathroom where he starts yacking up blood.  Then…you guessed it!  He turns into a zombie.  Not only does he turn into a zombie, but he starts spreading it around, and soon there’s a hand full of students trying to survive on a campus that’s overrun with zombies.  Now Will, who was never a natural leader, must lead a rag tag group of students across the campus in an effort to escape the zombies and survive the night.

There’s an old saying that you should never judge a book by its cover.  The same can be said for movies as well.  Never judge a movie by its cover, or title.  I’m as guilty of this as the next person, though you’d think I wouldn’t be after all the years I’ve been doing this.  When I was asked to review this film, I figured it was going to just be another cheap-o, lame ass zombie movie.  Right about the time the roommate turned into a zombie though, I knew I was wrong.  That’s when the characters really started developing and new and interesting characters were introduced that were not only fun, but also rather stereotypical of the various types of people you’d meet on a campus.  You have the emo girl, the horror / sci-fi nerd, the future politician who also loves horror and sci-fi, the hot girl that just joined the lacrosse team, the reporter type who only cares about documenting the story, etc….  These characters actually fleshed out the film and made it more than it otherwise would have been.  They were people you cared about and were actually pulling for rather than being throwaway two-dimensional characters that you hoped would become zombie chow so you wouldn’t have to suffer their presence on screen any longer.

The zombies themselves were typical zombie fare, complete with some nice gore effects here and there. (Hey, that rhymes!)  They had fun with them as well though.  Like, the zombified football team that was running on instinct alone in full uniform on the football field.  They take down one of the main characters, but it turns out, you can’t eat people with a football helmet on.  Things like that added a layer of fun to the movie and made it rather entertaining.

The acting was surprisingly good too.  Throughout the film, most all of the characters, even if some of the dialogue seemed fake or a bit stiff at times, came off as genuine.  You didn’t feel like you were watching actors play a part, which is what acting is all about.  That’s not to say they didn’t do or say some really illogical things at times, but they were believable characters performed in a way that made you care about them.

The film was generally well made, though the visual quality could have been better.  When you’re on a tight budget though, you work with what you have, and this film is an example of making the most out of what you have.  The visual quality isn’t horrible, but it’s not awesome some of the time either.  Sound-wise, the dialogue was clear and understandable, and as far as the pacing, the film never felt like it was dragging.  It moved along nicely and never really got boring or dull.  In fact, it was just the opposite.  The tension of knowing that there could be zombies on them at any time actually made it pretty intense.

Zombie films are a genre that have been as done to death as vampires. (No pun intended.)  Still, if you do it right, you can make a film that feels fresh and is actually entertaining, and that’s what we have here.  Definitely not the best zombie movie ever made by any means, but a great example of what you can do with a limited budget, a sense of humor and a good imagination.  It’s an enjoyable film and I’m happy to be able to recommend it to all you indie zombie lovers out there.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.dormofthedead.com.