Main cast: Martin Copping (The Hunter), Clare Niederpruem (Alison), Jade Regier (Fast Lane Debbie), Jason K Wixom (Ricky), Terry Guthrie (Jerry), Jake Suazo (Lyle), and Danny Trejo (Father Jesús)
Director: Kevin King
Now, to be fair, Danny Trejo is no stranger to getting star billing in abominable stinkers, and I’m sure we all understand that the bills need to be paid. At least he is only here for a short while, despite getting star billing, so his dignity is not too damaged at the end of the day. As for Zombie Hunter, contrary to what I expect from the DVD image and the marketing materials, this movie is far from the campy violent zombie apocalypse mowdown that I somewhat thought it’d be.
Basically, the world is in the throes of a zombie apocalypse, and we have our male protagonist, a man never addressed by name in the movie and simply called The Hunter in the credits. He has lost his wife and daughter to the zombies, so he now goes across the country, gunning down every zombie he meets. All the while he does voiceover in such a comedically low baritone that I hope that is Martin Copping’s natural voice or he’d probably need a bag of lozenges by the time he’s done. Anyway, the Hunter is convinced that he’s the last of humankind… until he is mistakenly shot at by a ragtag bunch of humans and ends up being dragged into their fight against a bunch of hungry zombies. Our female protagonist is the sweet Alison who nonetheless is pretty upfront about the Hunter being the first man to make her feel “alive” in a long time – not much of a surprise, considering that the other men around the place are her brother Ricky, the fat and uncouth Lyle, the much older Jerry, and a priest called Father Jesús.
That’s the story, and perhaps it’s because of the low budget (this movie was crowdfunded), but the movie never really delivers in either gore or campy action. Martin Copping doesn’t look like a stereotypical Chuck Norris-like vigilante hero that his character is patterned after – he looks like a young Sam Neill from certain angles – but the problem here isn’t his looks as much as his sleepwalking style of acting. Then again, he has to utter some of the corniest lines ever, so perhaps he can’t be blamed for his lifeless acting – saying lines like “I no longer have a name!” must be a soul destroying experience.
The rest of the cast are adequate, and Danny Trejo chews scenery like a boss for the ten minutes or so he’s actually in this movie, but ultimately, the least interesting characters – which include the Hunter – are the ones that linger around the longest. The movie gets quite dry and dull when the more colorful characters don’t stay around long.
The biggest problem with Zombie Hunter, though, is that there isn’t any effective build-up or denouement. The story just meanders around, and I can easily and correctly guess early on which of the cast of stereotypes will live or die. Even the death scenes feel like throwaway moments, and the final confrontation with the big bad zombie is awkwardly anticlimactic, like just another throwaway encounter. And then there is the haphazard continuity, such as the Hunter getting shot in the chest and then having his arm bandaged in the next scene. All things considered, this one is a joyless mess.