Director Turner Clay (Mischief Night (2014)), brings a new twist into a highly evolving zombie sub-genre as a new generation of filmmakers of indie films try to navigate the genre traditions, rules, and legions of fans, for these creatures while focusing attention on the survivors. That is exactly what State of Emergency does, it avoids the normal blood drenched vicious feeding of zombie hordes though not completely, and turns the tables from the outside existence to a centralized interaction of strangers each with personal secrets, fears and issues. This lofty goal is what strived screenwriter Turner, as he focused his ambition on the character Jim, played by Jay Hayden (Spring Break Massacre (2008)) bringing together an emotional film, filled with social aspects than just aimlessly frenzied zombies, which works best for an indie movie.
Jim’s world becomes shattered in mere minutes of the zombie apocalypse, with no friends, he and his finance Emile (McKenna Jones) try to escape the zone, but with bewilderment and insane driving, an accident turns deadly eliminating Jim’s support structure, and here the audience focuses on this lone survivor. His early choices first seem positive yet soon enough, he, like many characters in other films, makes careless mistakes. Although, through luck and skill, he advances himself to join with another group of survivors and it is here that the storyline truly develops into character vehicle than just a horror movie is action aspects. The introduction of the larger appears on screen as expected, as the location takes over a warehouse, with vastness of darkness, and few private offices upstairs, with a one door in and out policy. Jim’s uneasiness of making friends, comes to ahead, when meeting his new survivors, Scott and Julie a couple (Scott Lilly and Kathryn Todd Norman respectively) and an incredible well played loner Alex (Tori White), who holds her own deep seeded secrets, though clearly exposed with a bit of foreshadowing all involving a candy bar. Scott convincingly holds the position of wing-man to Jim, and yet still gullible to flight of fancy moments, each that bring in the zombies in closer to feeding time.
Although, other zombie movies have glanced and peered into the human nature only recently has that show the true selfish of metal anguish of rampaging problems such as Diary of the Dead (2007), The Walking Dead (series), Dead Weight (2012) and most notable Z Nation (series). Each of the these films among others start pulling back the layers, and exposing the more vicious nature, that far outreaches that of even the wild-west days of pioneers fending for themselves, for even then some justice and laws existed. However, in a zombie world all morality, kindness vanishes, replace by anarchy and one’s mind feeding off itself, with carnivorous desires always justified.
The zombies herein, are a cross between all three noted generations, and fans noted them, by Z.I.T. (Zombie Identification Traits) the first from 1968’s George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead where the creatures moved in a horde, yet shamble along, for dying eliminates the need to hurry. Then the second, the infected spreads by bio-chemical means (a virus), breeding zombies, into hybrids, complete with speed, painless immunity, quicken rabies and terrorizing screams. Notable found in Dawn of the Dead (2004) and 28 Days Later (2002). The latest incarnation, comes from the independent filmmakers, who wish to place their own personal design on this sub-genre of horror films, with a smarter, higher level thinking zombie, plans attacks (does one recall – Return of the Living Dead (1985)), and in a manner remember their lives, as was suggested again by Romero in his Dawn of the Dead (1978). Turner brings a human quality to the zombies, yet only to let it evaporate quickly showing the creatures as almost a DOS command system left intact.
Hence, State of Emergency lacks the overall isolationism conflicts, yet makes strive with deeper characters, and providing more thoroughly storylines, with the return of the hero, instead another final girl situation. As for zombie, frenzied attack patterns on human buffets, sadly, those appear far and few, likely to the exclusive ultra-low budget that managed to sustain the creators of the film, aid the survivors in existing to wait for any possible of rescue from the set.