Sam loves movies and enjoys science fiction, zombie movies, and pessimistic survival films.
Girl Meets Boy, Falls in Love
April Apocalypse begins with a slow-mo shot of a couple running through a beautiful garden, in an idyllic sequence so cliché that, of course, serves as a joke. In reality, Artie (Reece Thompson) and his longtime love April (Rebekah Brandes) are escaping from zombies in a vacant lot.
We get more context. April and Artie are neighbors since they were children and have developed a BFF relationship with some platonic love underneath that hasn't allowed them to be honest with each other. Throughout the years, Artie has watched how different douchy jocks have been April's love interest.
One night, April and Artie are about to have their first kiss. But April breaks the mood by releasing a major bomb: her father has received a great job offer, which means they will leave town. And all that will happen on the next day. They both say goodbye, with the promise that Artie will "rescue" April soon.
Title: April Apocalypse
Release Year: 2013
Director(s): Jarret Tarnol
Actors: Reece Thompson, Rebekah Brandes, Brent Tarnol, a.o.
Three years later, none of that has happened. Artie is still a loser who lives with his parents, convinced that April has moved on. However, thanks to the advice of his grandfather (William Morgan Shepard), Artie decides to go to a consultation with a psychiatrist (who turns out to be comedian George Lopez for some reason), which prescribes him a new drug for depression.
And just like that, Artie is cured. He is now a proactive, more confident man. And what's his first decision in this new stage of his life? To grab his grandpa's car and go "rescue" his old love April.
Unfortunately, a zombie outbreak will come out of nowhere in a matter of minutes, and now the romantic visit will instantly become a rescue search.
Honestly, the premise is not that bad. The execution, on the other hand, completely destroys any possibility for the story to shine.
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First, let me get something out of my chest. There's an exaggerated amount of Artie's voiceovers. There is more voiceover in this movie than in an entire season of Grey's Anatomy. It's really ridiculous how descriptive and unnecessary it can be.
However, the worst failure of the April Apocalypse film is that the Tarnol brothers betray one of the basic narrative principles: "it's the journey, not the destination". They are so obsessed with the goal that the whole movie is perceived as an obstacle. It's as if they were completely in love with actress Rebekah Brandes, to the point of bending any plot element in order to ensure to safely reach her final spotlight.
Let me give you an example. During his trip, Artie runs into a father (Roger Bart) and his precious daughter Regan (Stephanie Hunt). The three manage to quickly overcome the distrust and decide to join forces. The father is immediately killed by his son-zombie. In the next scene, Artie talks about already having feelings for Regan and about a promise to care and protect her. The flirting is clumsy but evident. They even make a slow dance together.
Stephanie Hunt is not only beautiful, but her charisma is undeniable. It's absolutely evident that the script is throwing us a classic curve, that in which the lead character is so obsessed with a girl, that he's unable to see the love right in front of him.
Except is not. All that's in our head. A few minutes later, Regan is unceremonially killed by zombies, and Artie even reacts to it. The first thing that he verbalizes after the death of the new girl in his life is "I must know if April is alive". April April April. Because that's what the movie is called. Everything must revolve around April, even though clearly the audience doesn't care much about that love story.
Artie doesn't really have character development. He simply started taking a magical anti-depressant and became a proactive man. From the moment he gets the literal cure to all his problems (the drug ends up also being the antidote to the zombie virus), the character follows an imperturbable straight line until he manages to rescue his girl.
And that's another weak aspect of the story. April doesn't suffer from a paralyzing depression like Artie, and yet, for three years, she doesn't move a finger to meet him.
The whole affair of the damsel in distress who patiently waits for her quirky, odd prince is basically the plot of Super Mario Bros. The passive maiden and the hero who runs from point A to point B to offer her freedom and happiness. If this were 1950, maybe that idea could fly.
And to top of it all, the "epilogue" (that's not how an epilogue works!) is really a third act compressed in 7 minutes, in which Artie is reunited with his family, are immediately devastated by a zombie horde and April, the only survivor, assumes the voiceover to say that her story is now beginning.
What? What was the point of all this, then? We'll never know.
Because if this was an origin story of an independent April all along, then the whole movie should have been way different. Should you watch April Apocalypse? Probably not, this zombie movie is only for completists or a very boring Friday evening. Try a movie from my comedy zombie ranking for a more enjoyable zombie-filled evening.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2019 Sam Shepards