Wasting Away (2008)
By: Paul Ryan on July 27, 2009  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Director: Matthew Kohnen
Starring: Matthew Davis, Julianna Nicholson, Michael Grant Terry, Betsy Beutler
Screenplay: Matthew Kohnen, Sean Kohnen
Country: USA
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The U.S. Military have developed a special serum designed to turn average soldiers into superhuman warriors. Upon testing, it quickly becomes apparent that what it really does is turn them into zombies. Ergo, the top brass decide to take the serum and dump it somewhere (marked as baby formula, no less). Naturally, one of the drums falls off the back of a truck and collides with the food supplies at the back of a bowling alley, just as staff members Mike (Matthew Davis) and Tim (Michael Grant Terry) are hauling the food crates inside. Mike, a prototypical slacker, happens upon the idea of making beer-flavoured soft serve, unwittingly using the tainted stock as the ingredients. Testing the product with their lady pals Vanessa (Julianna Nicholson) and Cindy (Betsy Beutler), they suddenly become violently ill. Recovering, they discover that they have acquired superhuman strength (rather unfortunately so for a cat that Cindy picks up) and that everyone around them seems to both speak very fast alongside a tendency to panic and start shooting at them. That's because they don't realise that they've become zombies…

Cheap and cheerful, Wasting Away isn't especially ambitious, but is fun and entertaining. Director Matthew Kohnen creates an effective visual style, alternating between colour (in the scenes where the main characters interact) and black and white (in the scenes where everyone else perceives them as the shambling zombies they are). This is helped immeasurably by Allan Fiterman's stylish camerawork and Kohnen's amusing transitions between the two states. The gore effects are plentiful and effective, while the digital severed hand/living head effects are excellent.

The largely unknown cast are clearly having a good time, with Davis a likeable goofball who begins to find purpose as his life – not to mention body – starts to fall apart. Familiar character actors Richard Riehle and Tracey Walter turn up in amusingly cartoonish supporting roles.

While it never approaches the wit or outrageousness of Braindead or Shaun of the Dead, this film manages to find a few interesting wrinkles in the zombie comedy genre, such as the zombie bowl-off, not to mention the parallel between Mike's aimlessness and the idea of zombie-ism – hence the title. Good beer-and-pizza viewing on a slow night with mates.
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