Foreign horror films have certainly been enjoying a more prominent place in the spotlight in recent years with several countries showing they have the chops to slug it out with the US studios by producing some of the better horror flicks of the last 10 years. Spain really hit the ball out of the park for me with [REC] exceeding my expectations of it delivering yet a another dull found footage film. After enjoying [REC] so much I was pretty eager to see Descendents, hoping for something just as intense and original. Descendents kinda slipped off the radar for me for whatever reason but now that Monster Pictures have dropped a local release I finally got the chance to check Jorge Olguin’s 2008 film out. The film wasn’t in the same league as [REC] but I still found it a worthwhile watch for its different take on the zombie storyline.
Descendents is set in a post apocalyptic world where humanity is on the brink of extinction due to a virus that has infected the majority of the population turning them into flesh eating zombies. The storyline revolves around a young girl who was born immune to the virus and left to fend for herself after her mother becomes infected. The girl’s past is told in flashbacks which are jumped to abruptly sometimes causing confusion to whether we are watching the past or the present.
As soon as the overdone blood-hitting-the-camera shot is out of the way it’s really noticeable how low-grade the effects are. Digital blood in horror films is something that’s always really annoyed me because it just looks stupid and out of place on the screen. It’s almost as if people have forgotten how much more effective simple effects looks.
The girl eventually finds a group of children who were also born with an immunity and they set out to find the ocean where the girl’s mother said they would be safe. I enjoyed that the story was told from the child’s perspective as I’m a fan of those style of horror and sci-fi films from the 80s. The theme of humanity evolving was interesting and it’s something I’d like to see utilized in future zombie flicks. I thought the news reports of the initial outbreak of the virus during the credits were unnecessary and it would’ve made more sense to show them at the start of the film or leave them on the cutting room floor.
I found Descendents to be on par with the zero budget UK film Colin. Neither film completely blew me away but their different approaches to telling their stories of the undead at least made them more interesting than the standard zombie fare. But while Colin worked well within its minimal budget I couldn’t help but think Descendents was perhaps a bit too ambitious to be properly executed on a small scale. For the most part it works well but some of the bigger set pieces were let down by the cheap looking CGI effects and it took a lot away from the film. However, considering the current trend in horror it’s bound to get remade and perhaps these ideas can be properly fleshed out with a more substantial budget behind it.
Zombie fans will definitely enjoy the elements that veer away from the traditional storyline (or have fun flooding the message boards with how it broke “the rules”). For me I found it an interesting film thematically but flawed in its execution. It has definitely added an extra colour to the palette for film makers to explore and shows there’s still a bit of life left in the genre.
The Monster Pictures disc is a bare-bones release with no extras but I believe the US disc has a director’s commentary and a few other things so you might want to chase that up if extras are your thing.
DIRECTOR(S): Jorge Olguin | COUNTRY: Spain | YEAR 2008 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): Monster Pictures | RUNNING TIME: 74 minutes