Zombie films have come a long way since George A. Romero unleashed Night of the Living Dead (1968), which was a dead serious look into a world of the undead, and Shaun of the Dead (2004), the best in comedy zombie film, which changed the way audiences view all types of zombie films. There are both Hollywood blockbusters (such as this year’s World War Z) and smaller films (Warm Bodies) and the undead has even taken over the small screen with The Walking Dead television show. The film State of Emergency (2011) is a low budget independent film that may have a simple plot but makes up for that by having a story to tell and a cast capable of telling that story.
After a chemical facility explodes in a small town a deadly toxic gas exposes the residents causing them to become mindless killing machines. Jim (Jay Hayden) has just lost his wife in the chaos and is struggling to survive on his own until he meets other survivors holed up a warehouse. As Jim strives to survive in a new world without the woman he loves he must find hope to survive in the people he has chosen to come live…and survive with.
State of Emergency is one of those rare films that actually tries to pay homage to NOTLD without wholeheartedly just ripping it off. The “zombies” in this film are not really dead but infected and even though for the most part they may appear to be mindless they do in fact speak when they have to in the form of manipulation. The film is less concerned with these “zombies” and more concerned with the relationships of Jim and his survivors who strive to work and live together despite their differences and the danger outside their walls.
This film is a slow burn character piece which is less concerned with gore and zombie mayhem (I’m talking about you World War Z) and more concerned with telling a compelling character driven story. Unlike NOTLD, State of Emergency is more concerned with its main character finding a way to survive in a new world in which all hope was lost with the death of his wife. Jim is on a journey of self-discovery of which audiences will be satisfied by journey’s end. This film may not be as graphic or action packed as other zombie films but it is one of the better ones out there.