Horror Sub Genre: Zombies apocalypse
Synopsis: “And suddenly, overnight, the world came to a halt. Two men, two survivors, one kid, and hatred that separates them. A place forgotten by everyone, including the creatures that inhabit the Earth… until now.” (Excerpt from IMDB)
Overview: The human drama element is an intricate part of the zombie genre. Yet, in recent years focus has slowly shifted from action oriented edge-of-your-seat thrills to mankind’s adversity amid a zombie apocalypse. Utilizing this approach has brought the zombie genre to a new level, fostering a resurgence in this tired brand of horror cinema. “Extinction” is the latest zombie genre entry offering drama as a central component.
The opening scene; a school bus convoy, the occupants are survivors seeking refuge in a military base and quickly captures the audience.Tragedy unfolds after a routine checkpoint goes awry after not one but two rash and unnecessary decision are made. Note: Every zombie/infection film offers these nonsensical scenarios in one way or another. The purpose? To propel the story onward and filter character development.
With this one scene “Extinction” does a good job in building the story and revealing key character attributes. However, this climactic approach gives a false impression that “Extinction” is a survival horror film. Nothing can be further from the truth, within the blink of an eye the film becomes a drama with a zombie/Infection subtext. After the action subsides the words; “nine years later” are superimposed on screen and from that point onward the viewers are subjected to the lives of two male protagonists and the young girl that binds them emotionally.
Performances: Friction is the key word to describe the relationship between Jack and Patrick (portrayed by Jeffery Donovan and Matthew Fox respectively). While Jack is a stable single father to nine year old Lu ( played by Quinn McColgan ) Patrick roams the desolate winter wasteland for subsistence and volunteers the remainder of his time as a radio talk show host.
The trio live in a town ironically called “Harmony” opposite one another in chain link fenced homes. Due to character flaws, its difficult to relate to either character. Based on several actions the viewer can make the logical assessment of Jack being the asshole. Patrick shines as a survivalist yet midway through the film the character drops as a favorite faster than Donald Trump’s popularity within the Mexican community. After a nerve wrecking near death incident Patrick hits the bottle and becomes borderline psychotic. Finally Lu is too lax in this post apocalyptic scenario. She finds comfort in everything else other than survival training. At one point when she does get weapons training she finds it amusingly cool after she errs.
Scare Factor: “Extinction” is first and foremost a drama and secondly a horror film. During the horror aspect of the film basic text-book jump scares are utilized and mediocre at best. The creatures/infected/zombies are not frightening. Although the creature make-up effects are superb, the overall feel reminds me of concepts seen previously in past zombie films.
Final Verdict: If you enjoy fast paced survival horror zombie films “Extinction” is not for you. This would be a good watch if you appreciate a different pace, a slow drama with a post apocalyptic zombie backdrop. “Extinction” did not offer anything new, most scenes were reminiscent of previous zombie films (and a popular living dead television show). I personally was looking forward to the release of “Extinction” but felt gravely disappointed after viewing. The characters were bland, the clever story twist was not so much of a twist and the creatures were regurgitated concepts.