What’s good, everyone? It’s Joshua Evo once again with a bit of a “I’m not sure how I missed out on this but I’m all the better now that I’ve seen it” review of a short film that offers an awesome take on the post-apocalyptic zombie film genre. It’s the story of an overweight, geeky, shy teen loner who also just happens to have a terminal illness and how he overcomes well, everything, to eventually become the last hope of mankind. If you’re reading this and it somehow DOESN’T appeal to you, then I don’t know how you found this blog in the first place, but hang around because trust me, you’ll dig it. Today, I’ll be offering my impressions of Super Zero: Badass Journey into Awesomeness”.
Way back in the ancient year of 2013, a Kickstarter page appeared created by writer/director Mitch Cohen. On both the page and the video, Cohen talked about the central themes to the story and describes the protagonist of the film and frankly, how relatable he is and and of course, the “badass zombie” action. The project ultimately did not meet its goal of $34,500 but thankfully, still ended up going into production.
The story is told from the perspective of the aforementioned geeky teen, one Josh Hershberg (Umberto Celisano). Right away, things are off to a bad start when he rather unceremoniously gets the bad news from his doctor that he’s got a rare form of terminal cancer that’s surrounding his entire brain… by way of a voicemail. Classy. At the same time, the rest of the world is recovering from a planetary water shortage by discovering that there’s water on Mars, and that it’s harvest time. With the news of his impending death slightly distracting him from the world-changing news, Josh decides to take his own life. He shoots a short suicide note video, and reflects on his life to that point, thinking about such things like his hobby of metalworking and of course, his unrequited affection for a girl he refers to as “the whole package”, Page Reynolds (Giselle Gilbert). He is however, unsuccessful at his suicide attempt, and just happens to come to his senses enough to see a report on the news about a mechanical failure aboard the shuttle back from Mars, as well as the craft itself careening into East Hollywood, right by the good old Silver Lake Reservoir. A month passes, and Josh is seen wandering around a decimated city. Turns out that the whole water experiment was a great big failure, and the Martian water was home to a rather nasty parasite that causes what I think is the greatest space illness ever, the Borealis Pathogenic Virus.
After a bit more wandering, Josh happens an abandoned warehouse and has an unlikely run-in with three survivors: Nate, a young athletic lad with a bat (Tyler White), a foul-mouthed party clown with a cleaver (Al Bernstein) named Chuckl… er, Gary, and Nate’s cousin, none other than Miss Whole Package herself, Page Reynolds. The intrepid trio are running for their lives from the previously mentioned space infected when they run right past Josh. He gets left behind as they run into another room and lock the door behind them. In an interesting twist of events (which I won’t reveal here because you really have to see it), Nate and Gary try to convince Josh to leave the group, as he’s obviously going to slow them down, but Page protests and tells him that they’re trying to catch up to a military convoy that’s extracting survivors. The foursome is attacked again by zombies, but Josh ends up proving to be more than a match for the zombies by defending the crush of his life and her friends in some of the most ridiculously awesome ways ever seen. This changes the mind of the guys and they welcome him into the group.
Super Zero is definitely a piece that gets more done than one might think possible in a 15+minute span. Cohen throws several elements at viewers very quickly like the water crisis, the discovery on Mars, Josh’s plight and the crash. However, none of them feel at all rushed, and not once did I feel overwhelmed trying to process the details. Also, the audience gets a sense of the tremendous uphill struggles Josh Hershberg has dealt with and is currently dealing with and these a real feeling of “does ANYTHING ever go my way” for him. He’s almost impossible not to root for in everything he does. My favorite thing about this character is definitely the message it conveys about finding the greatness in yourself, and holding out amidst the feelings of worthlessness. Josh makes no illusions about who he is at any point in the story, and in doing so, he finds not only purpose, but also a degree of success. The other characters are brilliantly acted as well, with White’s character Nate playing the part of the calculating hero and Bernstein as the slightly-off-his-rocker character of Gary, who just seems to perfectly fit the role of being a clown in this. Giselle Gilbert was also quite delightful as love interest Page Reynolds, as she expertly did NOT play the character as the typical “somewhat bitchy pretty girl” who the geek is into. She’s also never dismissive of him, which lends a potential relationship development a lot more credibility, but is ultimately stifled by the fact that Josh has a terminal illness anyway, so their reunion in the warehouse is a great scene, if not a little bittersweet. The effects and action are also quite good, but the real bright spot for me with Super Zero was the story behind the zombie genesis. I myself live in California, and have been living in severe drought conditions, so the idea of such a massive global drought so severe that humanity had to turn to space for relief and having that be the catalyst for the zombie apocalypse was a fantastic premise and one that I’ve not seen before. In blending proven zombie apocalypse story tropes with sci-fi elements, Cohen is able to offer a refreshing twist on what up to this point, had been a pretty tired and saturated genre. You’ll definitely want to check this movie out if you’re a sci-fi fan, zombie fan or just want to see a good underdog story. To make that easier on you, I’ve linked the movie below… so now you have NO excuse.
— Evo out.