Movie Review – Autumn (2009)

Autumn (2009), a Canadian film directed by Steven Rumbelow, is a film that, though showing promise in some respects, is unable to break free from its low-budget confines. In the beginning of the movie we see a mysterious virus kill off most of the human population and watch as the survivors try to come to terms with their new world as the dead begin to rise. The zombies (though they are never called this in the film) are benign at first, but slowly begin to become more cognitive and dangerous, giving time for tension-free character development for the first half of the story. Autumn is a slow-burn, which is partly what makes it almost work, and there is certainly a noble effort to become more than a simple zombie film, but it never quite achieves this. Even the make-up effects, which do their job in making the zombies look progressively rotten, do little to help.

Choppy editing, overly long sequences (which make it difficult to gauge the passing of time), and a lack of focus on the main characters work against the final product. The acting, too, ranges from adequate to Community Theater, and some performances are out of place with the mood of the film. There is also the curious mix of accents which makes it difficult to place the setting. The main characters consist of an American and two Brits, and early on there is a character who sounds like an Irishman attempting an American accent (note to such actors: Americans don’t say “bloody” unless we mean the red stuff). It is not until a good way into the story when a character speaks of visiting American cities that one can assume that the U.S. is the setting. This is not helped by the lack of location shots, as the movie essentially concentrates on a single devastated street on which we see the characters traveling a half-dozen times throughout the film – obviously another drawback to a low budget. We never really feel the scope that the film attempts to convey.

Unfortunately, even if the finances had been unlimited this film still would not rise above the superior zombie films which came before. Indeed, had this film come at the forefront of those competitors it may have been more relevant, but as it stands there is nothing new offered here. It is not scary, gory, dramatic, well-shot, or even terribly interesting. The script, which is based upon the David Moody novel of the same name, is predictable. We have seen it all done before, and we have seen it done better. Without giving away too much, the movie even culminates with a besieged farm house, offering us little variation even on Night of the Living Dead (1968), the classic film which established the modern zombie over forty years ago.

There is certainly a lot of heart in this film, but it is ultimately an unnecessary work that contributes nothing new to the genre. Nor is it able to recreate familiar genre elements in a way that warrants its viewing. It is easy to respect the efforts made in this film, but that unfortunately is not enough to recommend it.

Grade: D-