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April 22, 2013

Movie Review: 13 Eerie (2011, DVD)

Review By: Rob Sibley

Good zombie films are becoming more and more of a rarity these days. It's been even especially worse for low budget zombie pictures. Osombie, Zombie Apocalypse & Rise of the zombies to name a few. But for the slew of bad zombie films were treated now and then to a gem such as The Revenant and Exit Humanity. So with curiosity I put “13 Eerie” into my DVD player to discover a not half bad Canadian Zombie flick.

From the box cover alone the film has my interest. It sports the cream of the crop of Canadian talent. You can never go wrong with Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps, American Mary) in the lead role. The supporting cast was equally pretty cool featuring the unappreciated Brendan Fletcher (Freddy Vs Jason, Rampage) and the always cool Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1). I was pretty surprised that he wasn't listed on the front cover since he's the biggest name in the movie and the most accomplished of all the actors. Rounding out the cast though is Brendan Fehr (Final Destination, X-men: First Class) and Jesse Moss. You'll probably remember Moss as the psychotic college kid from Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. He even had plenty of screen time with Isabelle back in 2000's “Gingersnaps”. So it was cool seeing the two on screen together again. 

The plot itself is pretty above average as well. The story is almost a hybrid of Renny Harlin's criminally underrated “Mindhunters” and a zombie flick. Six forensic undergrads applying for a trainee position with the FBI, embark on a scientific expedition to a remote island that was once used as illegal biological testing ground for life-term prisoners. Now, the mutilated cadavers of these convicts have come back to life and are savagely hunting them down one... by one.

Send six students to a remote island to locate down dead bodies which have been removed from the local morgue and placed in various locations, so they can determine the cause of death was a pretty fucking rad idea and it played out as a breath of fresh air as far as plotting goes. The shit does hit the fan though when the bus driver decides to have a joint and in the process knocks over a canister of some nasty looking tar-shit. Which not only fries a few of the groups walkie-talkies but also re-animates the dead prisoner test subjects, that were left on the island after some botched experiments decades ago. Ain't that a bitch?

Considering that the first zombie attack doesn't happen till the 30 minute mark it should have given the film plenty of time to build on some character development right? Sadly that's not the case, for the first half hour nothing really happens. The characters remain rather one dimensional and the suspense doesn't build. But once the zombies start to rise the chaos and gore really kicks into full gear. I should discuss the zombies... if you want to call them that. Sure they eat human flesh and if you get bit you turn into one. But the zombies act and look more like some kind of mutant. 

They even have somewhat superhuman strength which is puzzling at times. But the last hour moves along at a fast pace with plenty of suspense and some outstanding special effects. The gore effects bring back the fun vibe of 80's horror movies. Looks like very little CGI was used and the effects were done practically and in camera.

I had a lot of fun with the film, sure the characters weren't developed as much as I would have liked. But at the end of the day I found myself entertained for 90 minutes. Definitely the kind of film that you can enjoy on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

E1 Entertainment brings 13 Eerie to DVD in a rather appealing 16X9 transfer in it's original 1.85:1 aspect radio. Obviously shot on HD video the film looks very good. The creepy atmosphere of the main location really stands out. We also get little to no digital grain and very low noise which is nice.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital track gets the job done nicely and sounds perfectly clear.

For extras we start off with an audio commentary featuring director Lowell Dean & producer Mark Montague. It's a laid back track but you can tell that both Dean & Montague have a strong passion for the film and are proud of it. You also get some pretty cool BTS info like the fact that 95% of the film was shot at a closed down Zoo! It also becomes evident that director is a huge Zombie fan which is nice and he confirms that the “zombies” are pretty much mutants. It's one of the better commentary tracks I've listened to and if your a commentary aficionado like myself check it out.

Next up are four featurettes “Welcome to 13 Eerie”, “The Monsters”, “Survivors” and Storyboards. Each featurette is only about five or so minutes so luckily you can choose the “play all” feature. Everything clocks in just a bit over twenty minutes.

I'm always worried when they take a bunch of small featurettes and cram them on a disk. Usually they never offer anything substantial. Remarkably the mini making of documentary is able to cover a vast amount of ground in 22 minutes. Fantastic interviews with the actors, plenty of BTS looks at the creature make up and more. When this was over I was actually left wishing that this was a feature length making of.

All and all this a fun zombie flick. It's leaps and bounds better then most DTV films of it's ilk. With a talented cast, solid special FX and a creepy location this film comes RECOMMENDED. The only thing keeping me from giving this a higher score was the slow first thirty minutes. If you make it past that point you'll be in for a tasty little zombie flick!

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