With the ongoing oversaturation of zombies in horror, it takes some effort to stand out in the sub-genre. Whether it’s a unique perspective on the apocalypse or the promise of over-the-top gore, there has to be something original enough to keep the viewer’s attention. Breakdown Lane, co-directed and co-written by Bob Schultz and Robert Conway, is a noble attempt at achieving a creative zombie flick while on a shoestring budget, though the end result isn’t as impressive as we might have hoped.
Starring B-movie veteran Whitney Moore as Kirby Lane, Breakdown Lane chronicles a young woman’s fight for survival during a zombie apocalypse when her vehicle breaks down on a desert road. Unable to reach her boyfriend, Kirby’s only contact with the outside world is through her SUV’s direct line with customer service attendant Max, who guides her through her perilous trek across the desert. Facing looters, cannibals and nature itself, Kirby will have to find her inner zombie-slayer if she’s to survive.
Had the film remained a simple, self-contained survival story about a normal girl being forced to find inner strength during a crisis, Breakdown Lane would have been a thoroughly entertaining and competently made feature. Unfortunately, the addition of campy violence and unnecessary comic-book influences, not to mention an insufficient budget, end up turning this into yet another late night zombie special.
The usual clichés are all there, with exaggerated shoot-outs and hardened survivors being driven mad as the outbreak advances (even though the entirety of the film somehow only takes place over a couple of days). However, the film’s best moments are the smaller, more introspective scenes. You honestly feel bad for Kirby, and root for both her and Max as they connect over casual conversation as the world around them falls apart. Had the movie focused on these more human elements instead of apocalyptic action, the result would have been much better.
That being said, Whitney Moore’s performance almost makes up for Breakdown Lane‘s conceptual flaws. She’s genuinely likeable as Kirby, and makes for a believable tough-as-nails zombie-slayer towards the final act. It’s a shame that the script didn’t give her more to do, as she basically carries the movie on her shoulders with her charm. The side characters were interesting as well, but none of them really stood out other than Max. The low budget does negatively affect some of the performances, but that’s inevitable with this kind of production.
Breakdown Lane ultimately feels like a missed opportunity, as it had all the elements for a compelling zombie movie but decided to go in a more familiar (and by extent, less interesting) direction. There are still quite a few positive elements throughout the film, like the charming protagonist, but they are still overshadowed by the lackluster story and effects. With a larger budget and more focused script, this could have been a great experience. Nevertheless, as it stands, Breakdown Lane is probably destined for the late night TV crowd.
Breakdown Lane will be available on most VOD platforms on May 16.