Zombies can be tools for political commentary, as we’ve seen countless times. And yes, their shambling, decaying bodies and their inability to talk can sometimes represent the individuals that try to lead us. But zombie films have to be careful about the themes that they try to force on their viewers; there’s a difference between slight colorful political commentary and forcefully shoving the viscera down our throats. ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction falls towards the latter end of zombie films, attempting to tackle an entire assortment of America’s problems in a feature length film while still trying to cram zombies into that plot as well. For the most part, it doesn’t work, and it’s not even that good of a movie to boot.
The opening portion of ZMD attempts to introduce a lot of characters into the story very quickly. We have a younger Iranian woman named Frida (Janette Armand) who wants to step out from the stereotypes of the rest of America; there’s a family rooted in Republican conventions of thought; we’ve got a gay couple making their way to Mother’s house to drop the big news. It’s surprisingly thorough characterization that’s necessary to drop fuel on the political fire, but it also makes ZMD almost excruciatingly slow for the first half hour or so.
Once the zombies begin to attack, ZMD goes from bland to straight over-the-top ridiculousness. The problem is that it’s rarely funny in its slapstick humor – we’ve seen these kinds of bumbling zombie jokes before, and done better. Even worse, the political satire is immediately so obvious there’s no room for the jokes to go; it’s obvious what stance ZMD takes on gay and minority rights, and it doesn’t take a political science major to deduce how the makers of ZMD vote on their ballots every election year. Perhaps the satire would have been funnier had it not felt so obvious and forced; instead of writing this zombie film with politics in mind, it might have been more effective to write towards the zombie storyline and work subtle jabs at politics into the fray.
What happens in ZMD is that the viewer becomes either ostracized by differing political views (wait, can people even have different opinions?!), or they realize that the zombie aspect of this film is pushed so far away from being relevant that the film’s just not worth watching. Zombies attack, they kill things, but the characters are still tiresomely dithering away arguing about terrorism and being gay and religious at the same time. At a certain point, I wanted to exasperatedly throw up my hands and say, “We get it!”
The thing is, ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction is in part just as bad as the political agendas it mocks. It’s just taking an opposite stance. The film’s political hangups really kill any momentum of the film, and even if the writers did think they were being clever, the satirical jokes fall flat simply because they’re so terribly obvious. There are a couple of funny scenes, but overall, this zombie film is so self-absorbed with its own political stance that it loses the essence of the original meaning behind zombie films – it becomes a lifeless zombie itself, spouting political drivel in a babble of meaningless jokes.