“Zombie with a Shotgun”
Directed by Hilton Ariel Ruiz
Braeden Baade as Aaron / Lynnea Molone as Rachel / with Ian Griffith, Sammy Mena and Henry Oelkers
“Zombie with a Shotgun” is an ongoing Indie Horror Web Series put together with some re-freshing originality by the FilmBrewery Company. The series is directed by Hilton Ariel Ruiz. Ruiz, who has an impressive resume of shorts (Dead IT Cards, 6-6-66 ), also wrote the story. The horror anthology takes place in the not too distant future where a zombie apocalypse has devastated the world or at least the small universe that Ruiz establishes with his first episode. What Ruiz does here with this web series is that he makes it about the human survivors. Much like the popular “The Walking Dead” from AMC. It is a smart move because through the actions and dialog from his 2 capable leads, he makes us care about them. That goes far in Ruiz’ favor to provide a heart at the center of the web series.
Ruiz takes an interesting approach when he establishes that his protagonist: The smart, handsome and muscular Aaron (Baade) has been infected with the virus that has turned the populace into the un-dead. Aaron and his very pretty un-turned girlfriend, Rachel (Molone) are alone and hiding away in what appears to be a shoddy and abandoned building. As Aaron makes he way around protecting Rachel, we get Baade’s VO throughout. He is a sick man very in love with his girlfriend and even though he is slowly battling the virus, he will do what he has to, to protect her. Ruiz and his DP Claudio Pena (Prognosis) quickly establish mood with minimal lighting, neatly composed shots and defining camera movement thanks to the flair of the impressive Canon 5D, 6D and the DVX 100.
Baade walks around with his shotgun (thought I forgot that shotgun, right?) looking ghastly pale and sick due to make-up artist Karen Michele’s deft hand. He emotes well and we feel for him as he tries to keep Rachel safe within the dangerous and almost prison like environment of the ruined building. They occasionally run into a singular zombie (Sammy Mena), not once but a couple of times. Aaron even dreams of him at one point. Ruiz never establishes the significance of this zombie who sports some grisly looking make up that includes a swollen white eyeball.
By the 3rd and 4th episodes, Ruiz and Pena gain momentum and they impress with the inventiveness regarding the lighting (a deep red, green and purple), camera work, titles and editing. The make up work remains consistent even though in stark lighting Michele’s job on Aaron looks a bit unconvincing. Also Rachel (Molone) has taken over the narrative switching our focus on how she feels being uncertain if she will have to kill Aaron once he turns or being killed BY Aaron as he gets sicker and sicker.
I can’t wait to see how this web series is going to eventually pan out. Who is the one zombie they keep running into that refuses to attack Aaron? Will Aaron fight off his sickness? Or will he turn and attack Rachel. Ruiz, with each episode ratches up the suspense and he and his crew are doing a wonderful job creating a spooky little tale that is compelling and well done. I give them all kudos for cutting together a neat short.
“Zombie with a Shotgun” was shot in NYC and Ruiz would like to take the web series to a total of 9 entries. Yay! That means 5 more episodes. Very cool. Ruiz also plans to kick up the quality of the equipment as he intends to use a RED cam to shoot for the last episodes. I can’t wait to see what they have in store with such neat toys at their disposal.
Episodes available on Vimeo: