Home (Australia-2010; short [approx. 11 min.]; dir. Cameron McCulloch)
Aussie filmmaker Cameron McCulloch has produced a damn fine short zombie film in Home. Made for AUS$2,000, it is, as it were, but a moment in the Romeroesque, post-Night of the Living Dead apocalypse, almost a vignette, though with the help of actress Jamie Mcdowell it achieves an emotionally epic quality.
With no dialogue (“apart from zombie moans”), but powerful imagery, beautiful cinematography, an evocative soundscape, effective music and leisurely pacing, it offers up a story that — like a breath of fresh air in a genre that is too often careless and derivative — takes its subject seriously, filling its meagre 11 minutes with enough atmospheric suspense, thrills and pathos to guarantee it will stay in the memory long after its wrenching final moments.
If you get a chance to see it when it comes to a festival near you, make sure you do.
The Backbrain asked director McCulloch some questions about his work.
Undead Backbrain: Have you had any previous experience with zombies?
Cameron McCulloch: None with zombies, though I have had experience directing horror, action and comedy. This is my first zombie film, or as we dubbed it, a romzom.
UB: Why this subject for a film?
CM: I began writing the project as an exercise. I wanted to tell a story about isolation and loneliness with as much emotion as possible, but no dialogue. I began writing, showing the woman alone, the pulley system to warn that something is out there. When I got to the scene where we see the first zombie, I was trying to think what it could be and well zombies! came to mind and I just ran with it. Being a genre fan and a zombie fan, I thought it was about time for a cool zombie short. Plus at the time of writing the film, zombies were not all that popular, unlike now.
UB: Your own background?
CM: Since graduating film school, I have been working as a editor / director, mainly directing music videos and shorts and editing commercials. I have been making films since I was 13 so, for 20 years now. But good ones for only about 10!
UB: What about this description you gave me of the filming: “It was shot under grueling fucked up conditions”?
CM: We shot in the middle of winter over two weekends, We had a remote location for the first weekend. On our first day, which was one of the coldest winter days in 10 years, it rained constantly, our lead actress had a chest infection and because the film relies solely on her emotive performance it was really tough for her physically, particularly with a bastard like me pushing her to do more takes when she was sick as a dog. Jamie was great though — she never complained and was always ready to shoot.
UB: Where can our readers get to see “Home”?
CM: We have already screened twice in Melbourne [taking out first prize at the Made in Melbourne Film Festival in December, I might add -- ed.]. There will be some screenings soon in the near future. I am confirming some details on them very soon.
UB: Ambitions for the future?
CM: My next production will be a 12-part romantic/comedy/zombie web series (so a “romcomzom” — or maybe I’ll just stick with “romzom”), which I’m in the final stages of writing. It’s a blend of comedy and romance with some zombies in there as well, just for good measure. Unlike “Home”, this series will be dialogue-heavy and a lot less depressing, focusing on characters and the comedy of the situation. I like a bit of gore with my comedy and romance.
Also I have just finished a script for a new short which I will shoot late in the year, and have some feature scripts ready to go.
- Reviewed by Robert Hood. Thanks to Avery Guerra for finding the material in the addendum.