EIFF 2016 Review – The Rezort (2016)

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The Rezort Dougray Scott

Outpost director Steven Barker turns his attention to contemporary zombie fare in The Rezort – a film that it positions itself as a sort of Westworld for zombie killing. The film marks an increase in scale from Barker’s previous work and boasts a slick aesthetic alongside much used tropes of the zombie sub-genre.

After a war with the undead, several remaining zombies are kept on a luxury island retreat where wealthy visitors can pay to take out their frustrations. However, after a security breach on the island safety precautions fail and the zombies begin to hunt down their human visitors.

Barker does an impressive job at mounting up the tension with The Rezort feeling largely engaging for its full run-time – despite a conventional paint by numbers narrative from Paul Gerstenberger. From the initial stages it’s clear that this rag-tag, generally unlikeable bunch of exaggerated victim fodder (the two young obnoxious gamers, the quietly dangerous veteran, the shifty looking single female, the trained guards) will find their depraved safari flipped on its head. We’ve seen this structure countless times before within the horror genre – especially in zombie films – as victims attempt to make their way to an escape point away from masses of flesh-eaters. Therefore there are no real surprises or great flashes of originality within The Rezort.

Fortunately, Barker’s direction and energy levels are high enough to ensure that although the structure of The Rezort is familiar, it’s generally entertaining enough to keep us on board. Barker crafts some exciting set-pieces and shoot-outs particularly as the staff lose control of the island. There are a number of well-crafted and tightly edited chase sequences as our protagonists attempt to navigate to the island’s port. Further interest is added from the picturesque visuals from the Spanish locations which mark a refreshing change from the often urban-focused zombie films that tend to be released.

Whilst the majority of the group of survivors feel like stock genre characters, the cast generally do well at engaging us. The film’s biggest star draw, Dougray Scott, brings a quiet confidence to self-appointed group leader and all round tough guy Archer, whilst Martin McCann engages as a veteran reliving his war experience. The female characters are a little more frustrating – particularly in their initial weakness, although Jessica De Gouw turns key-heroine, she and Elen Rhys‘ Sadie are too meek and victimised early-on.

The Rezort will not win any points for freshness or originality but its effectively crafted and engaging enough to get a warm response from genre fans.

[rating=3] | Andrew McArthur

Horror | UK, 2015 | 15 | 2016 Edinburgh Film Festival | Content Media | Dir. Steve Barker | Dougray Scott, Jessica De Gouw, Martin McCann, Jassa Ahluwalia, Elen Rhys, Claire Goose