Directed by: John Lyde
Written by: Kurt Hale
Featuring: Corey Sevier, Eve Mauro, Jasen Wade, Matthew Reese
It seems that before Osama Bin Laden was killed he ingeniously injected himself with a serum that would bring him back to life as a flesh-eating zombie. His burial at sea (the Arabian Sea?) is short-lived as Osombie (Walter A. Carmona) awakens and swims to the nearest coastline where he attacks a couple of Americans. Back in Afghanistan yoga instructor Dusty (spunky Eve Mauro) is wandering around the desert in search of her brother Derek (game Jasen Wade). Derek was a firefighter who was sick on 9/11 and is haunted by the fact that his co-workers all perished while attempting to evacuate the twin towers. He’s come to Afghanistan to find Bin Laden, whom he believes is still alive because he read it on the internet.
Dusty and her Middle Eastern guide are attacked by a group of Afghan zombies (putty-faced with beards and turbans). She inadvertently kills her guide in the struggle, but is rescued by a ragtag group of Special Forces soldiers. The following day the plucky Dusty gets an earful of exposition and quirky character background from her rescuers. The disparate group of young soldiers all have easily identifiable nicknames including hunky Chip (Corey Sevier) sword-wielding Tom Boy (Danielle Chuchran), laugh-a-minute Joker (Paul D. Hunt) and brooding DC (Matthew Reese). They’ve been sent on a top-secret mission to destroy a zombie infestation that was the result of a Bush administration chemical weapon called Godsmack. Through a convoluted process, the chemical was appropriated and altered by Bin Laden and his terrorist organization for, well, terrorism. Zombie terrorism. Still with me?
In between listless CGI-infused shootouts with the zombie hordes (usually about eight to a horde), we get unessential character background and banal exchanges about Walmart and the cable show Intervention. When DC over shares by explaining that his ex-girlfriend had an affair with her plastic surgeon prompting a break-up and shared custody of their beloved dog, it’s surely no spoiler when I say that he’s not long for this world. (Note to screenwriters of all genres: there’s a huge difference between “character development” and “inconsequential dialogue.”)
The two story threads eventually come together after yet another zombie attack when Derek (remember, the brother/firefighter who discovered Bin Laden was alive on the internet) drives into the battle zone with a confiscated military vehicle. Dusty and Derek are reunited and, naturally, her first inclination is to beat him and repeatedly call him stupid for going to Afghanistan. Oh, siblings! Evidently this was the only plan she had after tracking her brother down to a war zone hundreds of miles away from civilization. Derek informs the remaining soldiers that zombie Bin Laden is most likely at a militia camp not far from their location. A handy map that he got from (where else?) the internet highlights the precise area. It also happens to be near a rendezvous point the soldiers have made with other military contacts. Sounds like we are headed for an explosive climax, or at least the end of a very tedious 94 minutes.
Director John Lyde’s Osombie plays very much like a standard backyard fan film. It’s complete with ridiculous dialogue, incongruous exteriors (is this Utah?) and a pop-eating-itself sameness that can’t even be described as derivative at this point. Sure, a living dead narrative with a zombie Bin Laden leading hordes of zombie insurgents at least sounds interesting on paper. Sometimes a bizarre concept can fly if the filmmakers make good on their premise. The loony Nazi’s-on-the-dark-side-of-the-moon extravaganza Iron Sky was an unexpectedly smart piece of low budget camp. But Lyde and screenwriter Kurt Hale have no intention of taking their film any further than its thin one-joke premise. Osombie is essentially just another zombie shoot-em-up more interested in positing whether or not zombies are bulimic than attempting any sort of sly political satire. Much of the time it feels like the wrong-headed sequel to the Hills Have Eyes remake where National Guard trainees were pitted against mutant cannibals. Both films feature woefully miscast actors in military drag trudging through awkwardly staged combat sequences.
I will say that the actors in this film give some surprisingly solid performances. The audience might not buy Ms. Chuchran as a sword-wielding badass soldier, but she is clearly invested in her fate. As the firefighter who stumbled upon an amazing amount of classified information online, Wade is saddled with the most ridiculous character (in a movie about a zombie Bin Laden). But he’s able to convey just the right amount of fearless crazy and ends up stealing most of his scenes. Lead Sevier proves to be a charismatic presence and he looks quite nice sans shirt (which happens several times throughout the proceedings). His “banter” with the equally charming Mauro is pretty pedestrian, but the two make some sparks with what little they’ve been given. Filmed with an efficient cable television aesthetic by cinematographer Airk Thaughbaer, Osombie is a forgettable video game-inspired exercise that less discriminating critics might describe as a “passable time-waster.”