When the world is brought to an arctic standstill after a zombie apocalypse, two men and a child seek a snowy refuge in the town of Harmony. However, their peace only lasts so long, because a new wave of zombies are on their way and they are even more terrifying than they were before.
Extinction has The Walking Dead written all over it as it tries to successfully merge truly scary zombie horror with a sentimental story at its centre. Much like the TV show, Extinction craves the blood of something more than just a zombie movie, as it couples monstrous violence with emotionally-driven action from its onset. We are immediately greeted with a bus-load of people trying to escape the zombie outbreak, however, luck is not on their side as they soon become victims of a bloody, horrific and deadly attack. The scenes were Extinction let the zombies do the talking – attack, biting etc.. – are the film’s strongest. Much like Miguel Angel Vivas’s previous film Kidnapped, Extinction features moments of undeniable edge-of-your-seat action and genuine tension. The zombies themselves are downright terrifying and Extinction does not shy away from giving us a good look at their icy bodies and dead eyes. The parts of the film that are all about the zombies and the gore is great and there’s a lot to enjoy within this snow-covered post-apocalyptic world.
The other parts of the film concern the heated emotions of our trio of characters and there are times when Extinction is far too sentimental to be enjoyable. The film sways sharply between being a full-blown horror film and a piece of melodrama, and it is difficult to appreciate the latter as it does not feel organic. The desire for the film to refrain from being a one-trick pony is deserving of applause for the most part, but there are times when the emotional drive is just too much. It is difficult to find enjoyment in the film when it becomes overly concerned with its own sensitivity; the poignant music which is designed to pull at your heart-strings is fast overplayed and loses almost all effectiveness. It would have been beneficial for Extinction to cool down on the schmaltz and deliver a bit more action; as the monster moments are mostly fantastic. It’s just a shame that these moments are limited to the opening and closing acts of the film; the middle of Extinction begins to dawdle and it could have easily cut around 15 minutes of its runtime.
Putting these negativities aside, Extinction really is a great little film which does not deserve to go under the radar and be missed. If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic horror which has a strong heart beating beneath its monstrous exterior, then you’ll definitely find this a worthy addition to your film-watching collection. There are plenty of touching flashbacks which add a sometimes heart-breaking extra layer of sadness – if you can imagine it getting even more depressing – which shine a nice light on the situation these men are in 9 years after the original attack. Extinction couples its intended beautiful story about remorse, family and the past with striking cinematography. The scenes of endless snowy landscapes quite literally bring to life the coldness that has settled over the entire earth, but also emphasises the frosty atmosphere that resides between the two men. Through flashbacks we understand their difficult and troubled relationship, and it is up to the little girl to bring the two together. She is the representation of innocence in this story and it is she who holds the key to the future of the two men who fight to keep her alive. They rely on her to survive, just as much as she does with them.
Extinction may bit a bit too sentimental to handle for the most part, but there is definitely something to appreciate in its desire to add an emotional layer to a zombie film. This may not be the first film to attempt this idea, but it does belong in the group of features that manage to execute it well overall and for that reason alone, it’s more than worthy of your time. It’s striking, bloody and filled with ideas as beautiful as its snow-laden setting.
Words: Jessy Williams (@JessyCritical)