The mockumentary form of movie has been around for quite a while with probably one of the earliest that I know of being Meet The Ruttles, an inspired take-off on The Beatles by Eric Idle and friends. Since then the genre has gained in popularity, especially when Rob Reiner's This Is Spinal Tap became such a commercial success, and has proven a great vehicle for directors wishing to take a satirical look at certain elements of society.
Zombies have always been popular fodder for horror movies, and in recent years they've been popping up even more frequently, from comedies like Shaun Of The Dead to apocalyptic visions of the future as depicted by the Resident Evil franchise. So I guess it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to put the two together and make a mockumentary about zombies. The potential for satire in such a venture seems limitless, so I was interested in seeing what the creators of American Zombie, from Cinema Libre Studio, were able to come up with.
Co-directed by Grace Lee and John Solomon, who also appear in the movie playing themselves, the movie traces a film crew shooting a documentary about zombies living in the Los Angeles area. We follow them around as they interview experts in the field: a zombie historian, a zombie psychiatrist, and the head of the zombie research institute. From these interviews we find out that yes indeed it is a virus that causes zombies to come back to life at the moment of death and that the virus is spread through the saliva of a zombie when administered by a bite. It also seems that the majority of naturally occurring zombies, not those who have the virus transferred to them by being bitten, died a violent death.
The film crew also get to know four local zombies and follow them around. Ivan (played by Austin Basis) works in a convenience store and comes across like your typical slacker, Judy (Suzy Nakamura) works as a customer service rep for an organic foods company and is doing her best to pass as normal, Lisa (Jane Edith Wilson) is a florist with a thing for funeral arrangements and is desperate to find out who she was before she died and was reborn as a zombie, and Joel (Al Vicente) who is an activist working on gaining zombies rights as citizens.