A Loner, a Deaf Girl, a Recluse and a Few Mutants
by TS Alan
Storyline (from IMDB)
In a savage land where zombies roam freely – Lieutenant Colonel Sawyer is armed with machine guns, body armor and courage. He is on a mission to give his family a burial at sea. To reach the coast, he must enter a quarantined infected zone and fight through hordes of bloodthirsty zombies. There he encounters a group of survivors including a young woman who is a target of both the male survivors and the ravenous zombies. To protect the last non-infected humans and complete his mission, Colonel Sawyer must face the Dead, the Damned and the Darkness.
The Real Story
In a post-apocalyptic United States where flesh eating mutants outnumber the living, a lone soldier, Lt. Col. Sawyer (Robert Tweten), is armed with a machine gun, a sledge hammer and body armor. He is on a journey to give the cremated remains of his family a burial at sea. To reach the coast, he must pass through a quarantined zone guarded by the ragged remnants of the zone’s law officers. Inside the zone he first encounters a young deaf woman (Iren Levy) stranded on a crane arm, and a short time later a recluse named Wilson (John J. Welsh), hiding in an abandoned train car. Wilson tells Sawyer he knows of a place where the zombies won’t be able to penetrate, a nearby dam. Sawyer agrees to take them both but will end his trip when he gets to the coast.
Making it to the ocean, which is nearby the dam, Sawyer releases the ashes of his family and is about to shoot himself in the head when screams of the living interrupt. Investigating, he discovers a group of survivors, mostly made up of children, stranded atop a fire truck attempting to keep a group of mutants at bay. Sawyer intercedes and quickly discovers that one of the children is the daughter he thought to be dead, which puts an end to his planned suicide. Learning the dam is overrun with mutants (a whole dozen!), he single-handedly vanquishes them, and then he and his daughter along with Stephanie and Wilson, join the other survivors for a happy ending.
Sadly, The Dead the Damned and the Darkness is flawed from the beginning. Script issues abound, from subplots to continuity to character development. From the setup of Sawyer’s deceased family, you know his daughter is not dead and that he will eventually find her. As for Sawyer, there is not enough substance to make the character empathetic and likable. His lack of emotion over the loss of his wife and child makes the character one dimensional.
As for continuity and wardrobe design, several glaring issues are evident. In an attempted rape scene we see Stephanie — the deaf girl — having her shirt ripped open to reveal her bra. In a scene not too long after, she is changing clothes in a mall and reveals she is braless. There is also the reappearing sledge hammer. The weapon was lost after the Lt. Colonel embedded it in a zombie, but yet we find him wielding it again at the end of the film to clear the dam. A good script supervisor would have caught both of those issues. Throughout the film we see mutants — never more than a handful at a time — roaming around in nearly pristine cloths, with exception to some blood splattered on them. I could have overlooked the rubber masked mutants if their clothing had looked worn and dirtied.
The script also suffers from padding, needing to explain why the pandemic began and who started it with an overly long scene where the acting president holds a news conference and unnecessarily goes into great detail about how the plaque was started by the government in order to control the world’s population; including an unnecessary flashback to the late 1860s, where a group of prospectors first released the contagion from a piece of a comet.
Of the mostly unknown cast, only Iren Levy and John J. Welsh stand out, doing what they could to make their under developed characters as interesting as possible.
The fault of this mess lies on Rene Perez, who was not only the director but also the cinematographer, writer and editor. I commend her on her effort and dedication in getting her project made, but a good production crew and a better script editor then who she used was overwhelming needed.
The Dead the Damned and the Darkness
Directed by Rene Perez
Screenplay by Rene Perez and Barry Massoni (script editor)
Cast: Robert Tweten, Iren Levy, John J. Welsh, Richard Tyson, Raven Lexy, Russell Piette and Christopher Kriesa
Run Time: minutes
Release Date: October 7, 2014.