As Hallowe’en approaches, it’s a foregone conclusion DVD releases will be dominated by zombies, vampires and ghosts. But horror thriller WORLD WAR Z (15: Paramount), starring Brad Pitt, is a curiously bloodless affair.
Pitt stars as a former UN troubleshooter who scours the globe to find the cause of the cataclysmic pandemic turning Earth’s population into swarms of the undead.
These ghouls aren’t the shambling slowcoaches of George A. Romero’s films. They’re more akin to the swift 28 Days Later variety and can turn the living into feral fiends in mere seconds.
Pitt oozes a bit too much serenity in the face of deadly encounters in Philadelphia, Korea, Israel and Wales, particularly as the safety of his family is dependent on whether he survives to report his findings.
It’s hard to stand out from the pack as zombie flicks are now a ten-a-penny staple of the horror genre, although there are a few jump-out-of-your-skin moments and the epic dimension of the story, including masses of undead scaling the walled city of Jerusalem like an army of ants, is jaw-dropping at times.
You will probably feel cheated if you like your zombie yarns sloshing in claret, and despite a tense finale in the corridors of a Welsh medical facility, the film ends with a whimper rather than a bang.
> Co-writer/star Marlon Wayans, who had huge success with the Scary Movie franchise, mercilessly spoofs ghostly possession films like Paranormal Activity in A HAUNTED HOUSE (15: Entertainment One).
He decides to settle down and asks his girlfriend to move in, with baggage picked up years earlier when she made a pact with the devil for some designer shoes. You could say she sold her soul for some soles, but I wouldn’t dare!
It means the couple must hire various crackpots to exorcise the evil, including a rampantly gay psychic, TV duo ‘The Ghost Guys’, some ‘boyz from da hood’ and a penitentiary priest (Cedric the Entertainer) who quotes Pulp Fiction and Snakes On A Plane.
Wayans relies a little too much on toilet humour, but the whole found-footage idea is cleverly re-created and the performances are spot-on.
> CURSE OF CHUCKY (18: Universal), the sixth outing in the ‘Child’s Play’ horror franchise, sees Nica and her older sister Barb lock horns over the estate of their recently deceased mother.
Barb’s young daughter seeks solace with a ‘Good Guy’ doll named Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) that has mysteriously arrived in the post.
But when the family falls victim to a series of slayings, Nica suspects there may be a link to a grinning, red-haired doll who has a score to settle and murder in mind.
> When a sexy new professor lectures at their college, students Charley and ‘Evil Ed’ fall under her spell in blood-sucking sequel FRIGHT NIGHT 2 (18: Twentieth Century Fox). But they discover she’s a major league vampire with an unquenchable thirst, so the boys enlist the help of reality show vampire hunter Peter Vincent.
> Dominic Cooper oozes charisma as roguish artist AJ Munnings, but the real star of true story SUMMER IN FEBRUARY (15: Metrodome) is the Cornish coastal landscape.
Munnings joins a bohemian commune and is drawn into a love triange with a fellow painter and a land agent as Europe edges towards the outbreak of the First World War.