Awaken the Dead (2007)

51+6I always say, if you’re going to feature a priest as the center of your horror movie, however extreme or dramatic, make the priest a demon stomping hard ass and not some moaning pussy that holds the bible out in front of him at every chance. The hero Christopher is a little of both. A pacifist in some ways who is drawn into the front lines of battle, once evil comes a knockin’. “Awaken the Dead” is a mixed bag in terms of what it offers, but most of the time it hits more than misses. And for that, it deserves to be seen.

Director Brookshire offers up yet another zombie apocalypse tale, this time dipped more in the religious themes and with characters that almost seem to know ahead of time, what the world is in store for. Brookshire’s eye for detail and choreography shines on in this horror flick, with camera angles that work to the benefit of the story. There is one great sequence involving priest Christopher finally battling zombies at the resolve of his own pacifism, a view he holds even during the zombie apocalypse plaguing the city they’re in. He refuses to resort to violence, since he was indeed an ex-assassin, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Gary Kohn is very entertaining as Christopher, and is one of the few characters on the film who warrants an audience, because even when he’s refusing to butt heads, he commands the screen and everything around him.

Christopher is perhaps the only character in the film that I could properly stomach. The rest were about as irritating as a cheese grater on my temple. Most notably, there’s Mary who is a brutally repetitive unlikable character. She does nothing but bitch about the situation, repeatedly declares, “You know for a priest you’re not very (insert jab here),” which annoyed me to no end. In one scene she even proclaims, “Saving innocents is one thing, but letting gun happy psychos in is another.” This was after watching this “gun happy psycho” and his girlfriend chased by a group of flesh eating zombies, mind you. Logic, you’re not welcome here.

Aside from Mary, there’s also the disappointing cut away from the most annoying character, Stanley, which is sad. I was hoping to see him ripped to shreds. Brookshire greatly meanders from the plot by forcing comedy relief through the character Stanley, as well as a romance with Christopher and Mary, neither of which were ever as entertaining as alluded. It all just felt like padding from the premise at hand which was basically zombies taking over the fucking world. Throw us a bone here. “Awaken the Dead” may be another zombie film, but it aligns the zombie takeover with a religious prophecy, and also doesn’t hesitate to turn our heroes on one another while cooped up in a safe haven. But they can’t stay there forever. I’ve seen much better in terms of zombie apocalypse tales, but “Awaken the Dead” is still an above par zombie epic. While the many caveats drag it down, it’s saved by an exciting atmosphere, and eye-catching direction.