They say that a true film fan is willing to overlook budget and Hollywood snobbery when it comes to movies and horror is usually your best bet for true B-Movie artistry. Yet whilst those with a particular love for the genre will be willing to accept a piece of work which plants its tongue firmly in its cheek, Osombie: The Axis of Evil Dead is unfortunately not one of these films.
Not satisfied enough with Nazi zombies (Dead Snow and Outpost to name a few), someone, somewhere (though it is unclear whether it was the brainchild of producer Kynan Griffin) decided to resurrect America’s most wanted and reviled terrorist Osama Bin Laden in a film which is completely devoid of good taste. Whilst you’d expect guilty laughs, poor plot lines and dark humour, there are several major things wrong with Osombie. The main two issues are that is is neither that funny nor scary; two things that define the zombie genre.
Basically the story follows a group of gun toting NATO Special Forces officers assigned to a mission in the Afghanistan desert for reasons which are never fully disclosed. Accompanied by former yoga instructor ‘Dusty’, who is tracking down her crazed, conspiracy theorist brother, they are met with an unlikely army of flesh-eating ‘Muslim extremists’.
Politically correct? Absolutely not.
After several ‘scene setting’ opening sequences we are led to believe that the group of terrorists, presumably Bin Laden and his Al-Qa’ida foot-soldiers, have been injecting themselves with mysterious substances thus causing them to rise from the dead and send the US Government into panic. Fair enough.
However, there are some minor flaws that detract even from the kitsch value of Osombie. Firstly, the reason zombies are so terrifying is that they attack in hordes. They are usually found in overwhelming numbers and prove extremely difficult to kill. In the middle of the desert, our fateful heroes are met with mere dozens of ghouls which are immediately blasted in the head with US army-issued firearms before they can get within five metres of their target. This means that there is literally no tension at all. Secondly, it is almost criminal as to how unfazed the group of soldiers seem to be.
Also disconcerting, and a little confusing, is that the humour is derived from chuckling at the silliness of the seemingly serious plot and cast, though not in the way you would hope for. You will find yourself snorting as one soldier chooses to do his fighting mostly bare-chested whilst another spends his time cracking terrible jokes not even worthy of a Britain’s Got Talent audition. The tragic loss of one of their comrades is bizarrely unemotional and more laugh out loud hilarious.
‘So er… which one of you is going to do it?’ he asks, enquiring as to which of his fellow officers is going to blast his brains out before he is overcome with the urge to nibble upon their flesh. Perhaps this scene is supposed to be like that bit in 28 Days Later where they have to kill the little girl’s dad. ‘Yeah not me…’ comes the underwhelmed reply as if he were asking them to do the washing up instead.
Lastly, in spite of its forced romantic sub-plot and due to its action sequences (think explosions, heads blown off, that sort of thing…) the biggest reason this movie is likely to do well (mostly in the circles of cult horror fans) is because of its contentious subject matter; the fact that it uses a real-life boogeyman of bearded evil is certainly generating Osombie a lot of press. After all, what good is a film like this if it doesn’t offend somebody – it’s not exactly the most sensitive of representations.
On the upside, the film is not entirely unwatchable. The budget, sets and props are of a much higher quality than expected, and the special effects are actually okay if not a little amateur. With a little practice, the team behind Osombie could succeed in making a decent action film. Sadly, it’s mainly the plot and script that lets Osombie down. Although it shouldn’t matter in your run-of-the-mill zombie-flick, it feels crucial here to know what the heck is going on.
Overall the film could have benefited more had the director decided to opt for a pure schlock-fest of even gaudier special effects, satire and black humour. If that was already the intention, it’s far too subtle to register on our radar. Though highly entertaining and definitely one to watch to satisfy your curiosity, a few genuine scares might have saved Osombie but, strangely, a film that sounds so ridiculous and cheesy takes itself surprisingly seriously.