Live in Hell Long Enough… Everyone Turns Into a Demon
Dead Kansas is an indie film from Rotten Productions, co-written, produced, and directed by Aaron K. Carter. This is a spoiler-free overview of the film, and you can follow the links provided at the end of this to watch it.
Dead Kansas is a zombie apocalypse film that follows the survival of a young woman named Emma (played by Erin Miracle, and later by Alexandria Lightford) and her father, Glenn (Aaron Guerrero). As the first segment opens, the film introduces you to a gang of bandits, led by a man named Jebediah (Michael Camp). Quickly, the storyline is relayed to the viewers – as in, the first few minutes of the film – Jeb tells his fellow bandits of a plan to kidnap a young woman and sell her for profit (food, guns, etc.). After the brief scene with the bandits, the narrative has set up the transition to the young woman, Emma, and her religious father, Glenn; and once the introduction sequences between the characters are finished, the film has a very rapid pace – a welcome change in today’s saturated zombie apoc films, if I may opine. Emma’s father is wounded during a shootout, and she must go to a neighboring town to seek help, all while avoiding the bandits who want to capture her. During her trek, she is accompanied by Skinny (Joe McQueen), Rusty (Kevin C. Beardsley) and Leo (Anthony Della Catena).
Enough with the storyline. This is a plot that while unique, is still general enough to convey what the movie is about in a couple of sentences. I don’t mean this as a detriment: only that if you are reading this – and especially if you are a zombie apoc fan – you already have a firm grasp of certain post apoc plot lines and themes, and no doubt have read and seen countless books and films on the subject.
The coolest aspect of this film, in my opinion, is the presentation of the zombies (called “Rottens” in the movie). The characters mention zombies, but you never actually see one until much later in the story. The technique used is to shift the camera to a POV (point of view) of the zombie, where the color goes to black and white, with distinct sound design to convey its approach. I find this incredibly clever and it gives the film a uniqueness. The sound design and effects used were really unique, and again, a clever use. Little tricks such as these make me eager to see what this filmmaker will do in the future.
Indie horror, and especially DIY horror impresses me. Watching this film, the micro budget is glaring and apparent, and if such micro budget films are not to your liking, this will not be a film for you. For me, however, it’s not about over-inflated budgets (although that is always the dream), it’s about the presentation of the story. Many people lament the lack of funding, or the incredible difficulties associated with creating film, but Dead Kansas shows that indie films can be made, and the stories can be presented in an accessible way – it just takes dedication and creative thinking.
The credits for Dead Kansas include many people who contributed to the film, but the lion’s share of credit goes to a man by the Aaron K. Carter. Director, Producer, and Co-writer of the film, and even some of the soundtrack, Aaron K. Carter obviously had the drive to see his project finished, and I’ll say it again, I will want to see more of this man’s work in the future.