SNIPER CORPSE (2018)
Written and Directed by Keith R. Robinson
A woman goes in search for answers when her husband’s body and that of other soldiers who served in the army go missing.
Writer and director Keith R. Robinson has aimed to take a fresh approach on the zombie genre by re-animating soldier corpses to create military weapons in his feature film, Sniper Corpse.
Shot in Sidcup, Sniper Corpse focuses on bereaved wife Diane (Eleri Jones) who receives intel from a mystery caller detailing that her husband’s body and the bodies of others like him are suspected to be located at an abandoned facility in the woods. Left to investigate on her own, she takes the hot tip and sets about discovering the truth, even if it gets her caught. Armed with a facial recognition app on her phone, she comes across a group of soldiers patrolling the woods and discovers the horrifying truth behind the missing, deceased military men.
As indie films can sometimes get away with themselves by aiming bigger than their budget can support, Sniper Corpse likes to keep things a little more intimate with its limited number of actors and settings allowing the film to keep a handle on its story. This works especially well as Diane heads to the so-called ‘abandoned’ facility where the British military are conducting drills for their experimental soldiers. Clever use of shots aided by the night time setting enhances the element of risk of being caught as she wanders around the woods, as well as disguises the lack of environments, though we are treated some interior shots from which the commander in charge, Braddock (Kit Smith), runs his operation. To give the film an air of military authenticity, some of the dialogue is delivered using walkie talkies and comms systems to communicate which to a large degree works favourably although there are times where the audio is a bit too muffled to completely hear what the characters are saying to each other.
The presence of the super soldiers is pretty evident early on. The opening scene of two drug dealers attempting to shoot a soldier that won’t stay down despite being peppered with bullets gives us a clue that these military men aren’t your ordinary flesh and blood soldiers, not least by appearance! Where the rest of the film may be constrained by budget, a lot of love and effort has been put into the style of the movie; the makeup, prostheses and visual FX of both the soldiers and the destruction they unleash upon others. Exploding heads, limbs being blown off, blood splattered everywhere… this is truly where the filmmakers have gone to town and, as a horror fan, I’m rather grateful for the effort. Too many films opt for purely CGI nowadays but to see the practical approach on screen just reinforces my love of all things prosthetic FX.
When two worlds collide as Diane (Eleri Jones) comes face to face with the soldiers, both the alive and reanimated ones, the consequence of what she’s discovered never really seems to be a threat. Diane is able to interact with the soldiers freely and isn’t stopped by the commanding officer even though he’s been informed that the undead soldiers are remembering their past life; something which the scientists didn’t think would be possible and something the military would rather not allow. Even to have an intruder on the grounds, discovering their experimental soldiers, you would expect their reaction to her presence to be more severe, such as silencing her until they want her to speak or keeping her restrained in some sort of cell. Instead, she’s able to openly chat to other soldiers in the room with very little resistance. It feels too easy and you would think the very first thing the military would do is restrain such an individual who could expose their secrets. This approach made the film a little predictable in places with rarely any tension built up in these interactions for you to fear for either her life or those of the deceased soldiers around her.
Overall, SNIPER CORPSE has the right attitude and is an interesting take on the undead however the heart of the story just doesn’t feel meaty enough to justify the 80 minute running time. It feels a little repetitive in its attempts to wake up the soldiers as well as retreading the same plot without it developing any further. Its dedication to gore will please many but part of me feels the movie itself would be tighter as a shorter film or if the story was developed a bit more to focus on the bigger picture of the military’s experiments or the aftermath. There’s some good performances in the movie though, particularly from Kit Smith who seems to relish the role of an ego-driven, controlling military man who won’t have his project scuppered, especially by a grieving widow. The movement displayed by actor Jordan Murphy as the Sniper Soldier is also worth commending as he ignites each scene he’s in as the all-powerful super soldier.
SNIPER CORPSE is available now, fully uncut on limited edition Blu-Ray signed by the director, Keith R. Robinson, in a neat premium package. The Blu-Ray release comes with three lobby cards and a booklet with behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew whilst the disc itself features a behind-the-scene documentary, montage of exploding heads, footage from its premiere at Horror-On-Sea film festival and trailers. The film is also streaming in the U.S. on Cinema Epoch but this may be a PG version. The UK Blu-Ray, however, is region free.