Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Kissing Cousins: I am Omega

Let’s get things straight from the get go… I am Omega is not, in any way, shape or form, a vampire film. It is, in the wider sense, a zombie film (the creatures might be infected rather than undead but we aren’t exactly sure). It does have a blood aspect, at the heart of it (that I’ll cover in the article), but completely removes the nocturnal aspect that was a feature of both book and the more mainstream makes. However the reason for looking at it is that it was based directly on I am Legend, citing Matheson within the credits, indeed it was actually released to cash-in on I am Legend (2007) coming out just before the big budget film’s theatrical release. It was directed by Griff Furst.

dead wife
It starts with a ‘prequel’ scene. We see Mrs Renchard (Jennifer Lee Wiggins, Dracula’s Curse) and her son (Joshua Schlegel) racing to leave the house. She gets him in her car when she realises that she has forgotten her keys. A zombie (which seems more mutated than your standard zombie portrayal) bangs on the window and she gets out and beats it back, but the creature swings at her and pushes her forcibly against the windshield killing her. The creature runs off (which is a strange behaviour – whether they aim to feed or propagate, they are not normally portrayed as kill and run). The kid gets out the car and zombie hands grab him from beneath.

killing the zombie
Richard Renchard (Mark Dacascos, Wolvesbayne) wakes with a start and aims his gun into the night. If the intro was a dream, then he has fabricated it from what he believes happened, we assume, as otherwise we need to question what he was doing whilst his family were killed (perhaps we should ask that anyway). Suddenly security lights burn and alarms blare. He goes out and kills several creatures (any trauma that would kill a human seems to be enough to kill them). He gets blood on his hand and cleans it with alcohol (?) as the infection is passed through blood as well as scratches and bites. As we don’t actually see a turn, we don’t know how long it’ll take.

with the mannequin
Back in the house and one thing that is noticeable is the large amount of prescription medication he has. The alarm radio starts playing, talking about the outbreak, but it isn’t plugged in. He repeats “there is no radio” and this is a direct nod to Heston and the telephones in the Omega man, likewise his mannequin seated at the table is like Heston’s Cesare bust. His laptop then starts beeping with an incoming video message. He refuses it (presumably believing it to be another hallucination).

Mark Dacascos as renchard
Richard’s life is dedicated to planting bombs (it’s clear that he was some kind of special forces). He is planting them on gas mains and intends to blow up LA, thus killing large numbers of the creatures. There is a timetable as he fits each bomb with a long-term timer. He also, we notice, suffers from frequent visual hallucinations – seeing zombies were there are none. We also see him checking through stores, training and generally being a lot kooky. It perhaps isn’t as powerful a performance as Smith gives in his vehicle but Dacascos does what he can with the material. Whenever he leaves his home he stamps a time card and says “another day, another dollar” – again referencing Heston – and leaves money at the store before the corpse of the store holder. To some degree this is a wish to reconnect with the lost capitalist past.

Jennifer Lee Wiggins as Brianna
Eventually he gets another video call and answers it but when the woman, Brianna (also Jennifer Lee Wiggins), appears he freaks out and runs out of the house – clearly down to the fact that she looks like his dead wife and he knows he has been hallucinating other things. Eventually he does speak to her, however. She was with a caravan of people heading to Antioch, a survivor colony in the mountains. They got ambushed by zombies and she is the only survivor. She asks if he and his people can help her and he admits there are no people. He refuses to go himself and cuts her off.

Geoff Meed as Vincent
A van arrives and the men inside, Vincent (Geoff Meed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Mike (Ryan Lloyd), claim to be ex-special forces on their way from Antioch to the city to rescue Brianna – she is immune and her blood holds the cure for the disease. They intercepted her broadcast to Richard and also know about his bombs. Richard is sceptical, wary and eventually refuses to help again. He was right to, given that they then blow his house up to force him to help – the reason, because his knowledge of the sewers will help them get into the city easier. I’ll leave the blow-by-blow but do have to spoil the ending.

Richard gets separated from the soldiers but when they have a re-encounter (at least with one of them) he is shot and Brianna taken. The reason… they don’t want a cure to be found, they think the world is now a Darwinist paradise with pure survival of the fittest and without those darn liberals insisting that care is taken of the sick and infirm etc. So, having established he wouldn’t help save her and knowing the bombs would go off, then why not leave her? And certainly, why not shoot her dead rather than kidnap her so he can rescue her again? That said we are in a world where a man can be shot in both legs and still push a car to bump start it! All-in-all, the logic was thin – but the new societal order, limited to two survivalists as it was, was an interesting take on that described by Matheson.

post apocalyptic lighting
The film is poor, let’s be honest, but it is better than most of the other films made by its production company, the Asylum. Logical faux pas, low numbers of zombies (it never feels like an apocalypse, if we are honest), gunfire and explosions don’t draw hordes, there are close up of guns that are in the wrong scenes and use the wrong model of gun, street lights and building lights still working, forgetting to close and lock doors behind you when escaping zombies… to name but a few of the issues. However it is based on I am Legend so deserved an examination.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

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