|writer||Matthew Kohnen, Sean Kohnen|
|starring||Jose Acevedo, Christopher Critter Antonucci, Betsy Beutler, Michael Cornacchia, Matthew Davis, Colby French|
|tagline||Zombies are people too!|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
In an attempt to breathe new life into the overworked zombie subgenre, Wasting Away adopts an interesting perspective: What if zombies didn’t know they were zombies?
Four employees at a small-town bowling alley find out the hard way when a batch of lost serum from the U.S. Army’s Bio Weapons Unit finds its way into the self-serve ice cream. After exposing themselves to the serum via neon-green vanilla cones, the friends are transformed into brain-hungry zombies. But get this: they don’t realize they’ve been turned into zombies. And therein lies the humor. Supposedly.
Director Matthew Kohnen changes up the pace by switching back and forth between the living human and zombie points of view. The human perspective is shot in black-and-white, with the four friends in full zombie regalia, working it with some old-school lurching and moaning, white eyeballs bulging.
But when the film adopts the zombie perspective, the action is shot in color, with the four actors out of their creature makeup and looking normal, humorously discussing their predicament like the cast of a Friday night sit-com. (“You got any jerky? I feel like jerky!”) The constant maneuvering between the two different perspectives is really all the movie has going for it, and it’s not nearly enough to retain viewer interest.
Sure, there’s a goofy plot involving military man Nick Steele (who convinces them they’ve received a dose of a “super soldier” serum), unrequited love, and a wacky bowling competition, but the narrative is pretty inconsequential. The movie is simply an excuse to choke a few seconds of irony out of a clumsily conceived idea. Making up its own zombie rules as it goes, Wasting Away postulates that only a drunk human can understand what zombies are trying to say (apparently the brain waves of zombies and drunkards move at the same speed…huh?), and, to make matters worse, zombies are depicted searching desks, running from the living, using tools and weapons, and carrying on rational conversations with each other, essentially breaking every implied rule of Romeroean lore.
It’s hard to tell whether the silly banter between the zombie friends is intended to be blisteringly funny, but the dialogue sounds like lame lines that didn’t make the final draft of the Idle Hands screenplay. The green screen work is cheesy enough to make you wish they’d left it on the cutting room floor. Even the sparse makeup effects manage to disappoint. While initially intriguing, the central conceit of Wasting Away grows old quickly, like the taste of Velveeta, or talking baby movies. It’s an interesting idea that’s slowly buried by a pantload of failed attempts to be clever.