On an FBI training mission, six recruits are deployed to an uninhabited prison island, where mutilated bodies have been planted to test their skills. Distracted by disturbing noises in the woods, the team become increasingly worried when they return to find the corpses have mysteriously vanished and communication systems have gone down. As members of the group start disappearing, they realise they are being hunted one by one and the competition has become a matter of life or death.
People are stupid. Some people are very stupid. Usually, characters in horror films are at least slightly stupid, otherwise they wouldn’t constantly get entangled in the mess that fuels the drama. But when the leads are six forensic undergrads who embark on a scientific expedition, you expect a certain degree of sense. Their project takes them to a remote island that was once used as illegal biological testing grounds for life-term prisoners. When we get our first glimpses of what remains of these prisoners, the effects are stomach churning. Also, the Canadian woods used as location used are pleasingly bleak and bathed in winter crispness. To their credit, the undergrads do many things right here; it’s just that the walking dead keep on coming.
There are many, many zombies in popular entertainment currently, and as is often the case, their ubiquity has reduced their effectiveness. Rather like the found footage genre, there are still effective stories to be told, but you have to search for them.
I enjoyed ’13 Eerie’ a lot. Although it is all played straight, I suspect the effects planners had a great deal of fun conjuring up the imaginative ways in which people/zombies are impaled, stabbed, mangled and injured. The results are joyfully convincing. The ending is especially amusing – when the credits come crashing in, it’s hard not to laugh out loud. Intentional horror is rare in these kind of films, and it works very well here.
The zombie creatures are very detailed and suitably gruesome, but their torso/body-suits occasionally let them down, betraying a certain bulkiness or fold in the fabric. But they are a force to be reckoned with – they run, snarl and hiss, indicating their infection has given them a certain primal ferocity.
On a personal note, I have watched a lot of horror films recently that have struck me as banal and formulaic and it made me wonder if I was becoming over-familiar, or tired of the genre. Luckily for me, an enjoyable experience like ’13 Eerie’ has restored my faith and enthusiasm.