The undead craze isn't quite dead as proved with Range 15.
There is no greater proof that Range 15 is a product of its time than the fact that it is a horror comedy about the zombie apocalypse in which the bushy-bearded lead is a popular YouTube personality. That makes it seem as tied to this era as bell bottoms and disco music were to the ’70s, a depiction of so many trends that are currently capturing the zeitgeist. In 10 years, the lumberjack beard might look as silly as a ’70s perm, and zombies may be relegated to cultural irrelevancy in favor of witches or vampires or whatever supernatural creature becomes the latest trend, but Range 15 is a movie made for right now.
Range 15 stars Mat Best, a popular YouTube personality best known for his channel MBest11x, which has earned his videos over 25 million views. The very fact that a YouTube star could headline a feature film undoubtedly would make many struggling drama school graduates weep in envy, but the path to stardom is nowhere near as clear-cut as it once was. Best plays a cocky, gun-toting military man who helps fend off the zombie apocalypse alongside his fellow soldiers. The film winks at the pervasiveness of the zombie apocalypse meme, as the characters relish their role as the heroes who get to take down the army of the undead.
There is a fun sense of trashiness about Range 15, as shown by the numerous celebrity cameos that director and co-star Ross Patterson enlists. At this point in time, any appearance by William Shatner signals that a film is not going to be a serious affair, and the cameo by Danny Trejo as a zombie confirms it. More interesting are the cameos by famed military men Dale Dye, who advises most of Hollywood’s war films, and Marcus Luttrell, whose experiences led him to write Lone Survivor. This is an unabashedly conservative film. It extols the virtues of soldiers, guns, machismo and big-breasted blondes to such a degree that it reaches the edge of satire; this is a movie for those who voted for George W. Bush twice and experience no regret over it.
Range 15 may be conservative in many ways, but as the latest take on the zombie apocalypse it is very much of its time. So long as “The Walking Dead” is one of Hollywood’s biggest hits and films like this one exist, the undead craze isn’t quite dead.
Street Justice Films
In theaters June 15
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