DIRECTOR Joe Chien WRITER Joe Chien STARS Morris Hsiang Jung; Yvonne Yao; Sona Eyambe DVD 30 July
Purportedly Taiwan’s first zombie film, Zombie 108 is simply dreadful. A reasonably good start — albeit wholly familiar by way of laboratory shots, news quotes, an empty street and a supermarket — rapidly falls victim to a lack of direction resultant in an incoherence that entertains on very few levels. Yes, some gratuitous female nudity may be appreciated by the more shallow viewer, however the horror aficionado is looking for more than this.
To account for the distinct lack of story — outbreak, evacuation, gang, SWAT team — there is a subplot featuring a monstrous character who collects women to hold captive in his basement for serial rape purposes. While this in itself has promise, it jars, not complementing what is essentially a comedy horror. In fact Zombie 108 is entirely a mish-mash, the little girl featuring so prominently in the marketing and opening scene implying a different film altogether, whilst even a little body horror is thrown in (the latter admittedly elicits some laughter, however more for sheer incredulity). The confusion is exacerbated by the dissipation of any momentum achieved — which is little, the action scenes showcasing some utterly cringeworthy choreography and attempts at parkour — with priority given to lacklustre bickering between the one-dimensional characters.
But what irks the most about Zombie 108 is its failure to comprehend its own premise. The title is in reference to a countdown of that particular number of hours until the zombie apocalypse. In a shocking oversight and/or crime against editing, the film ultimately takes us through and past the initial scene, where said reverse countdown begins. If director Joe Chien cannot keep ahold of the very base concept he named his baby after, there is no hope for him, first-time attempt or no. As such, an in-film jibe at Taiwan’s film subsidy policies — probably the only interesting line of dialogue — just cannot be taken seriously.