Sunday, August 20, 2006

To Kako (Evil) 2005

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It's rare for Greece to produce a horror film, and even rarer to come up with a serious zombie splatterfest that plays like the mutant child of 28 Days Later and Bad Taste. Yes, it's generic; thinly plotted with a stilted dialogue, yet the main saving grace is the absolute passion with which it's directed, the thumping techno chase scenes (imagine Run Lola Run with a pursuing horde of the undead) and gore effects straight out of Tom Savini's top drawer.

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Set in Athens, the film begins with an industrial accident, machinery clattering through a hole on a construction site. Three of the workers take it upon themselves to investigate and find a forgotten cave. They also stir up more than dust, instead waking something long since dormant. The film cuts to the next day, the three men are in sullen mood, detached from what's in front of them; TV, a football match, a nightclub. Then a violent change takes hold, transforming the men into crazed monsters, ravenously tearing into the nearest person; a wife, a fellow supporter, a girlfriend. The infection is immediate, and in a crowded city like the greek capital, only one thing can happen with an outbreak of flesh gorging, running zombies. Pretty soon the problem is epidemic, and no one is immune.

Our movie's main protagonists are two groups of survivors. In one, a teenage girl, a witness to her father eating her mother, escapes with a neighbour. The other, a taxi driver with two passengers finds himself on the fare from hell. After hearing messages on an emergency channel both groups make for the supposed sanctuary of an army base, the two girls picking up a stranger on the way, a man with an equally bleak story to tell; he had to shoot his entire family. The two groups converge on the base only to find it in disarray, populated by mounds of corpses and the dead still gorging on the once living.

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The only survivor from this inferno is a young soldier, and all seven make a break for it, whilst pursued through the city by a screaming mob. Taking refuge in an abandoned restaurant, the stragglers are engaged in what must be one of the most over-the-top gore drenched set pieces ever. With decapitations, eye gouging, disemboweling with machetes, the imaginative use of cutlery and heads being split and squashed, you almost have to check your clothes for bloodstains - it's that gory.

The rest of the film could seem almost an anti climax in comparison, yet even more bloody scenes ensue, mostly helped along by a shotgun and a hatchet. The teenage orphan finds closure in dispatching her zombie father, but gradually a lack of food and sleep brings uncertainty (and insanity) to the group, and their number begins to dwindle as the sheer numbers of undead grow. The end of the film is as nihilistic as they come, with the last of the living hunted by an army of the dead.

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This film has attracted a certain amount of criticism, but with the likes of Evil Aliens and Hell also being widely reviewed at the time, perhaps it's more of a visceral overkill. Whilst To Kako certainly scores no points for originality or acting, it possesses the intensity and charm of a film helmed by a director who firmly believes in his creation. He takes a big risk in combining dark humour with over the top effects, but this film succeeds where something like House of the Dead fails, it knows it's limits and exploits them to good effect. Put bluntly, unless your other half's a serious gore fiend then this isn't a date movie. But if this gets a DVD release, buy it, purchase a few packs of beer, invite over your friends and have a rollicking good time.

Review by Dr. Freudstein.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This film just released on DVD and being Greek I must point out that most of the jokes and puns come across to Greek speaking audiences. I really enjoyed it as it doesn't avoid showing gory scenes (it even overdoes it at some parts) and I'd like to add that the ppl behind it are two brothers that are experts in effects. Sure, you'd expect some more common sense (most of the characters are running around unarmed unless it's a zombie ambush scene, not much effort is put into barricading enrances, they leave an army camp without taking even one pistol etc). Then again, as we have seen so many zombie films, we are experts on how to tackle them LOL.

3:23 AM  
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