It sounds like a Chinese spoof of zombie movies, in the tradition of Lost in Thailand and Lost in Hong Kong (think Carry on Zombie, but without the naughty bits, because obviously), yet it is actually an adaptation of a popular webcomic that takes its zombie apocalypses pretty seriously. However, the mayhem is still a lot of fun in Sky Wang’s Lost in Apocalypse (trailer here), which screens during this year’s Bushwick Film Festival.
The zombie apocalypse is underway and nobody questions it, because what good would that do? Wang rewinds to show how this rag-tag group of survivors got together in the first place. Most of them were attending a luncheon arranged for their former headmaster (now a regional administrative director), arranged by the slimy wheeler-dealer Rich, but his poor driver Jack was stuck in the parking garage. At least TV news magazine host Helen did him a solid by granting him access to the hotel’s wifi. Ordinarily, he would be far shy to approach her, but they are a cinch to form a Survivor-style alliance when the hordes attack.
In contrast, Jack’s boss Rich definitely looks like an every-man-for-himself kind of guy. The slightly corrupt administrator also inspires little confidence, but he starts to straighten-up when the group saves Cindy, a recently orphaned girl roughly the same age as the granddaughter he hardly knows.
On paper, the narrative of Wang’s adaptive screenplay is indistinguishable from a host of previous zombie TV shows and movies, but what sets this Lost apart is the characterization. Even though we know most of these characters are most likely going to die (no spoiler there), we still care about them. Martin Yang scores big in his film debut, playing Jack with a rubber face and an old soul. He develops some endearingly sweet chemistry with, E’Naan Zhang, who is just terrific portraying Helen’s redemptive arc. Likewise, Fengzhu Jia is quite compelling as the Bureau Chief who also redeems himself down the stretch.
So many zombie films only show humanity at its absolute worst. Granted, there are some absolutely appalling people in Lost, but there are also those who sacrifice everything for the sake of others. Frankly, it is refreshing to see the best of mankind, as well as the worst. Of course, that takes us back to characterization, which is the film’s strength. Very highly recommended for zombie fans, Lost in Apocalypse screens tomorrow (10/12) at the Bushwick Film Festival—and also tonight (10/11) at Screamfest LA.