Descendents (2008)
By: Sam Bowron on February 10, 2012  | 
Monster Pictures | Region 4, PAL | 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 74 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Jorge Olguin
Starring: Camille Lynch, Karina Pizarro, Patricia López
Screenplay: Jorge Olguín, Carolina García
Country: Chile
AKA: Solos
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Certain countries are more synonymous for their genre film output than others. The United States, the Untied Kingdom, Japan, Italy, France and more recently Spain have effectively dominated the market for the past four decades with only the occasional exception being made by smaller territories here and there when a critically acclaimed effort manages to break through onto the scene. It's safe to say that if one is looking to release a genre film from a more marginalized part of the world the finished product must speak volumes in order to get noticed by aficionados, let alone garner any kind of deserved success.

One such part of the world horror fans rarely see much from is Chile. Aside from being the world's fifth largest exporter of fine wines, the illustrious South American country has put out a number of fright films over the years, several of which were directed by Jorge Olguin, the man behind recent release zombie film Descendents. Made for a reported $60,000, the film has its sights set high with ambition and scope, however when all is said and done nothing particularly new or interesting is brought forth to the undead dinner table.

In an undetermined future, planet Earth has suffered a significant diminishing of both infrastructure and life as an airborne virus works its way through the remaining population, turning people into flesh eating zombies. Interestingly, a select few children appear to be immune to the effects of the sickness, most notably Camille, a nine-year-old girl wandering the wasteland after being separated from her mother some time ago. Before long Camille discovers she and the other youths all share a recurring dream of the ocean, a liberating vision of something lying beyond. Banding together, the children journey to the coast in search of a new way of life and free from those intent on their destruction.

It has no doubt been difficult for filmmakers to come up with an original take on the zombie subgenre since the remake of Dawn of the Dead opened up the floodgates back in 2004. In turn, the Zack Snyder film gave way to an insurmountable cavalcade of so-so walking dead flicks that literally consumed a good amount of the genre's productivity and, in many ways, overshadowed just how good they could be when done right. Arriving fairly late in the game, Olguin's Descendents is quite an ambitious undead flick, especially considering its miniscule budget and country of origin, and it does a relatively good job in portraying wide-scale devastation and chaos amid a crumbling society of military rule. His screenplay also adopts a rather interesting perspective from which to tell its story - that off a young child and the dangers she and the group of youths undergo whilst waging their way through imminent danger. This is more or less a first for the genre, as almost all other zombie flicks are witnessed through the eyes of mature age adults with firm, albeit slowly diminishing perspectives on the horrific events unfolding around them.

Despite these few commendable attributes, the otherwise stock-standard plodding that ultimately prevails throughout Descendents is hard to ignore. Even though the protagonists may be younger than we're used to and the twist ending comes completely out of left field, almost everything else associated with the direction the film takes is straight out of contemporary zombie moviemaking 101. A profusion of shakycam work, over-desaturated colors, hyper editing, etc are all used and abused just as we've seen a thousand times before with no real effort made to deviate from the formula.

What's more, the film only clocks in at just over sixty minutes and ultimately has very little to show for itself in the way of story progression over that time frame, hindering at a potential short-film-idea-turned-feature-length (although not quite!). Even more problematic is the crux of the story's emotional intent - the bond destroyed between mother and daughter due to the effects of the viral outbreak. Their entire relationship is told through a series of indistinct flashbacks accompanied by a languid voice-over from lead actress Camille Lynch that never truly hits home, instead coming off as a lukewarm attempt on behalf of the filmmakers to solicit audience empathy from a more or less hackneyed affiliation.

While there is definitely admiration to be shown for Descendents in its tackling of a hefty scenario on such a minute budget, one simply wishes more of a creative effort were made in order to highlight the film's stronger points, thus making it less of an overall imitation of better works. As it stands it's a perfectly respectable, if slight zombie yarn.
The film is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, and is 16:9 enhanced. Admittedly there is little one could have done to re-master the obviously low-end camera stock used to shoot the film, thus a series of imperfect pictures is the best we get here.
Monster Pictures have provided a Dolby 2.0 track for the disc and, funnily enough, it's surprisingly rich and crisp given the resources. Claudio Perez's score is also beautifully enriched in the process.
Extra Features
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
If you're curious and appreciative of micro budget efforts, by all means check this one out as you may very well find something to latch on to. Otherwise, don't stretch your wallet.

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