There's no shortage of zombie movies out there, but this 30-minute short from Venomous Little Man Productions attempts something a little different with the subject, and manages to avoid the pitfalls and cliches of many in the sub-genre.
Directed by James Hart with a confidence that hides the fact it's his first credit, from a script by
Necropolis Rising author Dave Jeffery - the story originally appeared in the book, Alt-Zombie: The Alternative Zombie Anthology - Ascension manages to be both engaging and atmospheric, while also delivering some extremely gruesome gore along the way.
Unusually for a ultra-low budget film, the acting actually isn't too bad, and the cast give it their all, without coming across too self-aware and there's no evidence of overacting, which can be as bad as those who appear to be nervously reading the lines. Both Melling and Rathbone are somewhat veterans (they both memorably appeared in Alex Chandon's Inbred) and they both shine in their parts, Rathbone straddling a fine line between amiable and creepy wonderfully.The glorious locations emphasis the desolation of a situation in which an illness has wiped out society, and the survivors attempts to recreate a semblance of civilisation through 'ascension'.
Although it's very well filmed, there are some issues with the soundtrack, rendering some of the dialogue quite low in the mix, but the fabulous score by Liz Comley is perfectly moody and complements the visuals without being overpowering or inappropriate (as is sometimes the case with horror).
While Ascension takes place within horror themes, and as mentioned, features some fantastically gory effects (a massive credit to the team of Justin Becker, Carl Braid and Neil Stevens) it doesn't play on fear as one would expect. Instead, the fear is of the how we would manage faced with such an apocalyptic scenario. Maybe we would do what the survivors here do. But then again, maybe not.
You can purchase Ascension on DVD here.
Venomous Little Man Productions will be launching an Indiegogo campaign at the end of August to raise funds for anthology film Bad Medicine, due to star Barbie Wilde alongside Melling and Rathbone. Dig deep and help out indie cinema when it does launch.