Director – James Farr
Cast – Geoff Edwards, Allison Rupert, Michele Fairney, James Farr, Haley Logan, Julia Nardin
Release Year – 2003-2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I came across this animated zombie effort randomly, and given I had yet to see such a film I figured I would enjoy this unique (for me) experience…and I did. Originally debuting as a series of 10 webisodes over the course of four years (2003-2007), Xombie: Dead on Arrival gives us a cool story sure to please fans of the zombie sub-genre, and those looking for more animated horror horror, and under-appreciated idea in the genre that seems to always deliver good results.
After a zombie plague nearly decimates all human life on Earth, a young girl named Zoe finds herself washed on up a seashore with no sign of her family. As she walks through this dark and scary world she comes across unimaginable horrors typically reserved for her nightmares, but she stands a chance when a zombie variant – a zombie with a conscious human mind – named Dirge and his dog Ceberus do everything in their power to help her find her family, a feeling they once knew in their previous lives.
While I have seen anime horror movies before, this one was a bit of a roller coaster ride for me given I expected to really enjoy this when I hit the Play button, then I was not sure about things once the film got going, but once the story was developed and the horror kicked in gear I found myself enjoying this quite a bit, but not as much as I originally intended to.
I liked the overall storyline involving a zombie variant aiding a young child find her family in a world not meant for anyone to be exposed to, especially children. We are given many unique elements thrown into this simple story, which include the usage of Dirge’s undead dog Ceberus, numerous villains and allies, and plenty of action to keep you entertained for all of the 50 minutes this piece took to complete its mission. Things do start off a bit bland at first, and that was where I had some problems with this effort. The dialogue was overly bland, and while I understand that it may have been purposely used that way to give some mystery to what was going on, the writing and/or directing execution did not sell it to me, and that kept this piece from greatness and a higher rating. I should also note that the early segments of the film were created nearly four years before the final segments of the film were finished, and it could be that filmmaker James Farr took a while to find his niche with this one. Thankfully, all of this only occurs during the first act, which is fairly short given the film’s 50 minute runtime, and once the second act kicks in we are given non-stop carnage and engaging ideas that paced pretty well.
Writer/director/animator James Farr did a good job executing this piece visually, and while it is obvious from the get-go that this is not a big-budget animated effort but an amateur one produced on a low-budget scale, he managed to keep things interesting with cool settings, good atmosphere, and enjoyable characters as well. I enjoyed the usage of Dirge, who easily stole the show from the cute and adorable Zoe, as he came off a brash but kind-hearted zombie variant who refused to let evil prevail. We are given many fight scenes involving Dirge kicking some zombie and even (pseudo-spoiler coming) robot ass as well (among other things), which along with Ceberus, Nephthys (an undead Egyptian woman), and even Zoe joining Dirge in the ass-kicking duties we are given plenty of overall action for a film coming in at under an hour of screen time.
Overall, Xombie: Dead on Arrival is a fun animated horror film that despite a low budget and inexperienced filmmaker makes for an enjoyable experience for horror fans seeking something different, in this case an animated zombie effort. The storyline is a cool one that comes with many unique ideas that I have never been exposed to before, and Farr’s execution provides plenty of enjoyable action and gore.