Toward the end of the American Civil war, the dead begin to rise. Six years later, veteran soldier Edward Young (Mark Gibson), whose wife and child succumb to the undead hordes, begins a journey with no purpose other than to find meaning amongst the chaos and, possibly, a new purpose for living.
Despite budget constraints (the zombies look comically unconvincing at times), Exit Humanity is a refreshing film as it avoids gore in favour of character study and gravitas. Its degrees of success vary, due in part to some weak and hackneyed dialogue and wooden acting, yet it is interesting that the human element be so prominent. Most supporting roles are taken up with nameless fodder, fleeting cut-outs whose only purpose is to be devoured gratuitously. The makers of Exit Humanity keep the cast small but, crucially, detail each character with their own moments. These are people thrown into an uncompromising and unprecedented situation who, for better or worse, are just trying to retain a sense of normality.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. The aforementioned budget constraints are a given with straight-to-DVD territory yet at times it reduces the film almost to the standard of an ambitious but faulty feature-length student film. There is a lot of grief too, with so many sullen faces and philosophical babble on life and meaning that you can’t help but want to shout at our heroes to chill out for just a few moments. There is also a lack of urgency through much of the film, limiting what should be an interesting character study into a plodding and tepid narrative.
But, ultimately, it all comes together. The conflict is predictable yet remains enthralling and there is a surprising want to see these people survive. If given a bigger budget and a small runtime trim, Exit Humanity could have been something wonderful. As it stands, it is likely to both fascinate and frustrate in equal measure.