Wastleland (2013) – By Baron Craze


The zombie sub-genre allows for many innovating ways to convey a story, namely for first time feature director Tom Wadlow with extremely tight budgets and vastly limited sets to use in any manner needed, and yet still that doesn’t deter this project from achieving the completion from screenwriter Tommy Draper. As suggested, Wadlow has experience mainly confined to short films, and with that the control of finances brings forth a nicely executed British zombie tale. Another great feather in the cap for creators is that Midnight Releasing picked up the movie for distribution, something that all filmmakers strive to achieve the all-important mass exposure for the next opportunity to present itself.

This modern creation has many of the normal attributes found in the movie, complete with usual bleak and depressing outlook that has the common self-loathing of not only ourselves but society itself, a reflection on the  what society is now. People avoid the association of others, the mere hello from a stranger brings paranoia to some, and others common acknowledgment but nothing more, rather more consume with our technologies, but in a zombie apocalypse those devices fail reducing us to shells of human husks. These qualities all factor into the early portion of the film, with actor Shameer Seepersand (Scott) owning not only the film, but also responsible for expressing his desires, lost love, absent of caring, all destroyed by the plague. A man alone, for the most part except for a voice through a short-wave radio, though for a while one wonders if it all is just illusion, a madness battling in his mind, similar to I Am Legend with Will Smith. Wadlow goes deeper with his well-designed plot and the impressive performance by Shameer. A survivor, of this rotting life despised and displayed for the viewers, all through the power of suggestion, than the showing the images, because with no real budget that means limitations to overcome.  Shameer’s existence huddle in a little stone shed, with a supply of beans but has a very real problem, lack of water, and the nearby rivers contaminated by the dead, the disease and blood ruining everything in fast deterioration of life. Cinematographer Chris Newman captures the wretchedness of the world from this the one room building, which was actually a garage but its convincing design shows another usage. Then introducing both the love and hate for Scott and his girlfriend Beth (Jessica Messenger, from Devil’s Tower (2014)), through a series of flashbacks, his determination to keep striving forward, not to fail and lose the only thing left – hope. In these brief snippets of images the message of the dating and falling love, the enjoyment of life, and how fast it all can end, informing not in a preachy mode but rather living life to the fullest and with regrets, taking each day as a blessing, not squandering them with squabbles or silly arguments. The acting and direction, give a spot on command of the screen, with maddening effect of a solitary existence, extending to the understanding, that any sounds attract the zombie hordes, adding another level to the living dead phrase. In other words, humanity becomes the living dead, with a lifeless existence no joys, for any can bring death more quickly, the zombies have more happiness, the noises they make are acceptable, their existence an overwhelming uniform front, with no restrictions or division, we the living, are dead. Dead to life, dead to enjoyment, dead to fun, unable to partake in anything the ultimate form of segregation, with no coming from unless as a zombie.

Wasteland lacks horror staple moments often found in a zombie flick, however the human qualities more than balance this endeavor, with the likeable character of Scott and the actor himself enlists the caring from the viewer, for his pain and horrors of the landscape around his demoralizing situation. Now the film is not without issues, mainly focused in the special effects department, and high questionable CGI moments, are not always the surefire success, sometimes practical is the best decision, or simply cut-away shots leaving the implied horror in the minds of the fans. Now there are zombie killings, can’t have a flick of this nature without them, and without anything standing out is a sad memory.

The biggest aspect found in the credits to pad the running time, was the listing of the sixty-seven zombies, and this goes a long way to show each person who assisted in the completion of the movie, that has great character development, and with Shameer, one awaits his next performance.  The requite blood and violence express themselves in the visual effects and brings a solid zombie outing, which unleashes a new favor each week in cinema history, with only a few stumbling long after many rotting corpses fall into the wasteland of life.