October 2, 2015
Rosebud Baker as Carla
Matt Riker as Todd
Ben Samuels as Eddie
Montana Marks as Amanda
Amy Rutledge as Emily
I’ve never really experienced motion sickness. Even when enjoying a boat ride on the open ocean, or traversing down a twisting and winding mountain road, or when venturing onto some new, overly-hyped roller-coaster. Sure, Space Mountain once made me feel less than perfect, but I think that’s more of a claustrophobia issue, rather than the up/down, side to side motion.
But tonight, at the screening for the new zombie film, 6:15 – I actually became ill. Not so horribly that I had to up and leave, but pretty darn close. I’d like to say it was the overall atmosphere of dread, the horrific visions committed to the screen, or perhaps the deeply primal disturbance in my psyche – brought up from the depths of my mind – urged forth by the work of these filmmakers.
Nope. Just my first time dealing with good old-fashioned motion sickness.
You see, the gimmick for this film is that it’s a first person (like your favorite shoot ‘em up game), one-shot film (a la last year’s Oscar-winning Birdman), told in real time.
It becomes a problem when the sole focus of your film is this “first time it’s ever been done” selling point. In making this your nifty big idea, you’ve left the script to fend for itself, and your performers to struggle through this less-than-perfect dialogue.
That being said, the film deserves high praise for pulling off this “one-take” wonder. Proper choreographing and timing on something like this are of utmost importance, and I can’t begin to imagine the pain-staking work which must go into such a project. For the success on that level, the filmmakers deserve kudos.
The story is quite basic. Taking a cue from Night of the Living Dead, we’ve got a handful of people stuck in a remote farmhouse as flesh-eating meanies roam the property. The person whose eyes we see the story through, Eddie (played by writer/director Ben Samuels) is having problems getting over an addiction and the death of his newborn child. His relationship with his wife Carla (Rosebud Baker) is strained, and they’re having a group of friends over to attempt to find some semblance of normalcy. Some new chemical has been dusted onto their property’s crops , turning anyone exposed into zombies (the Zack Snyder-running variety). A couple of men in black show up to confirm the outbreak and eradicate the problem. Lots of running around, poor dialogue and first-person tricks abound (the early scene of Eddie putting in his contacts was fun and received applause from the audience).
On a positive note, the gore effects are frankly pretty spectacular – again, considering that they all had to be timed perfectly to fit the overall gimmick. Lots of fun blood, bites and other goodies (wait for the entire barn sequence to know what I’m referencing), provided the audience with some actual “oohs” and “aahs” when things got bloody on-screen.
What I found most interesting was the comparison I made in the early introduction scenes. The group of old friends come together after a tragedy, and we get a nice slice-of-life vibe. I was reminded of the party scene in Cloverfield (another found-footage effort). I recall enjoying those early “getting to know you” moments with the characters (as I did in 6:15), but once the action began, I lost interest as well as equilibrium.
The acting is amateurish at best. Again – early on, I bought the performances. There were true feelings of recognition and ease between these old friends. Small details like the lack of hugs between Carla and Todd (Matt Riker) and Todd’s reaction to the hug-snubbing, were real and organic.
You will find a few good scares, but certainly nothing to keep you up at night. Initially, I will say that the filmmakers eeked out a bit of unease and dread (in the cornfields), but the terrible depiction of the government agencies (all throughout the film) was an annoying distraction. And late in the film, a “scientific-type” shows up and it’s utterly unbelievable and ridiculous.
There were far too many holes and inconsistencies in the story. The 9-1-1 call where an operator tells the group that they’d be better off “killing themselves” is a prime example. The fact that the group had to go across the expansive farm to get to one particular vehicle. Yes, I understand that they would have the keys to that one car, but the dozen or so trucks and farm vehicles covering the grounds – certainly Eddie, as the farm’s manager, would have keys to at least a few of these. Also, what actually happened to the group’s first escape car? There was some sort of explosion and then broken glass and the vehicle was then un-useable? What did I miss? And one of the property’s farmhands had lasted through a great portion of the ordeal – never having come to help our core characters or try to escape the farm, despite the fact that he “heard screams”. He stuck around long enough to be attacked by an infected pig and was then conveniently there to explain an important plot point. Hmmm.
And lest anyone bombard me with claims of “you didn’t like it because it gave you motion sickness”, I can assure you that had the piece been filmed traditionally – it still would have failed.
Being a lover of all things zombie, I’m always on the look-out for the next big revelation in undead cinema. Sadly, 6:15 brings nothing new, aside from the ill-conceived first-person/one take set-up and the absolute necessity to down a couple of Dramamine following the viewing.
6:15 had its world premiere at the opening night of the 15th Annual Shriekfest Horror/Sci-fi Film Festival. There is currently no information regarding an actual release.