Extinction (2015)

Extinction has a lot of ideas packed into what should have been a very small story. At times it wanted to be a zombie flick, then an “after the end” type story about an unconventional family, then it slipped into a monster flick, and then into a more traditional coming of age story. Unfortunately it tries hard to be all of these things at once and as such, fails to give each aspect its proper due. The family storylines never come to their logical head, and the eventual resolution of the plot rings hollow after so much setup for so little payoff.

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A lot of the character development didn’t make sense or wasn’t explored fully enough. For instance, one of the characters might be going mad from isolation and alcoholism, despite living in close proximity to other people, and suddenly seems to just…get over it one night. The young girl felt much older than what she was portrayed as, and her voice never quite found a solid tone to settle on. Her coming of age subplot didn’t have much of a conclusion. Sure, she gives up one of her dolls (symbol of childhood) in order to defeat a monster, but what happens after that? Extinction has a few lines about what it means to be human – mainly, not hiding in a house for your whole life – but doesn’t give its characters a clear direction to go in. The increasingly fractured family dynamics makes you root for them, but once those threads are resolved, there isn’t much to keep the audience invested.

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The monsters look decent, despite some moments of truly conspicuous CGI, but Extinction never explained how the shift from traditional zombies to the final product happened. The genre rules established in the film’s opening scenes suddenly don’t apply later on. While this makes for some interesting tension as the audience watches the characters scramble to adapt to the change, it comes a bit too late to be effective.

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I got the feeling that with its many ideas and mostly internal character development, Extinction would have been better served in novel format than a feature film. This one has too many ideas crammed into its two hours, and doesn’t manage to bring any of its questions to satisfactory answers. There are good moments, but the project as a whole is disjointed and confusing.

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