From writer-director Joe Chien comes the self-proclaimed first Taiwanese zombie movie, Zombie 108. The plot is familiar to anyone who has any experience in this genre and is niftily explained via a credits sequence. A virus breaks out in the wake of a Tsunami and infects Ximending, a city district in Taiwan, with the rambling violent undead.
The film then sets up two storylines. The first involves the local gang lord (Morris Jung) and his cronies, a swat team and an American parkour specialist as they try to escape the outbreak. This side of affairs has its moments. The zombie costuming and sounds effects get the job done and ensure that there will be something of value here for dedicated fans of the genre. Performances are also strong enough for this kind of low budget horror; especially considering this is many of the cast’s first time.
The problem, however, is that there are two storylines. The second is actually how the film opens. We follow Linda (Yvonne Yao) as she wakes up on the day of the apocalypse desperately trying to find her daughter Chloe. Once she finds her, the monsters are closing in for the kill when a pervert, who has used the chaos to kidnap and torture women, steps in and saves them. Here Zombie 108 takes a sour turn that only die-hard horror fans will be able to forgive because what follows are some troublesome, and really quite graphic, scenes of sexual abuse.
First and foremost, Chien’s camera seems to be both ogling the tortured women for sexual titillation and playing certain moments for laughs. Secondly, the scenes are out of place in the narrative and when the two storylines coalesce in the closing stages it’s due to a weak instance of coincidence. Add to this a strand of suggested paedophilia and the result makes for a deeply uncomfortable experience.
So while there’s something commendable about the production values, Zombie 108’s torture scenes move it away from a promising genre piece towards a chaotic, exploitative example of cinema’s darker side.
Joshua has awarded Zombie 108 one Torch of Truth.