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The Vanguard
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The Vanguard (2008)

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Plot Summary:
"The world is in chaos - the last known oil fields are depleted, over-population has reached critical levels & mankind is about to become a thing of the past. From this apocalyptic nightmare, an entity known as the Corporation devised a course of action to cull the human race and start a mass depopulation program. But the drug they created to kill instead reduces humans to a primitive ape-like state, now known as Biosyns."

Review by
Steven Davies
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Review Date: 25 September 2008 My Rating: out of 5


This UK action-horror, if you can call it either, comes to DVD later next month. 'The Vanguard' is an apocalyptic survival horror where a 'Corporation' has come up with a ridiculous drugging method to help cull the over-population of humans (those pesky humans). Unfortunately the depopulation program doesn't so much as kill them off but practically de-evolves them to belligerent ape-like people.

I often feel with UK-based apocalypses you either have it or you don't. And 'The Vanguard' does not. I’m sure you can while away in some far-away location in Middle America for your end-of-the-world saga but unfortunately the reality of finding great places, especially on a budget, here in Britain is more of a struggle. In fact in 'The Vanguard' it seems the end of the world will involve a lot of woodland and countryside as 90% of the whole film revolves there.

And so who's the hero in this new-world overrun by zombies - oops I mean Biosyns? Well that would be the hairy-faced Max who is living alone and trying to survive in this 21st century Dark Age. The movie is nothing more than a shoddy-looking student film. A majority of sequences have an almost un-linear feel to them. Don't get me wrong I'm extremely appreciative of both low-budget goodness and story-telling that curves the standard. But I'm also scathing to the hopefuls and potential filled. Think of me as The Inquisitor, assessing their worthiness and existence based upon them striving for that full potential.

The zombie-like creatures although take a different stance on the usual slouch and drag movement are particularly un-frightening. The Biosyns for all intents and purposes are simply human apes and short of a banana or two and a coat of fur may as well be slinging faeces.

I'm English and am often amazed when overseas viewers watch our actors in action and think they're decent. It seems sometime you only have to lay on a ridiculously region-less accent and posh it up a bit to be heralded as 'good acting', but clearly the acting here is pretty amateurish. The story itself in some context is quite original. However, it may have been better suited to attempt to strengthen it up and try and shove it Hollywood way. The irritating student-esque style of pretentious verbalisation almost made me reach for the remote, if not the bucket.

There is a story behind this and there's also a required amount of blood and gore. The zombie and undead-related movies always holds my biggest interest. There's a mass of shit out there when it comes to this sub-genre and sifting between the good and the bad is usually pretty straight forward. Unfortunately I still feel this meanders on the low side. It's a shame that writer/director Matthew Hope feels the future is filled with nothing more than endless woodland. And the irony being that whatever Hope's original vision was for the movie that he truly could not see the wood for the trees. Boom-boom.

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