Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Zombie Survival 312

A running gag every time I watch New Girl with my friends is how much like Nick I am. He's a big football fan, continually frustrated with other people's stupidity, and a writer. Often he even gets into situations or responds to them as I would. It's extra layer of humor to enjoy. Personally though it's also a bit disturbing especially considering that a recurring gag this season has been his zombie novel and recently I've come up with an idea for a zombie movie.

The working title is "How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse." It will be about the main character coming to terms with who he is in order to survive in a post-apocalyptic society filled with zombies. I won't say anything further about what he is coming to terms with and the design of the society because that's the meat of what will make this zombie movie different. I've been racking my brain for awhile now (pretty much since I saw Serenity) trying to figure out how to evolve the concept of zombies to make them more interesting without sacrificing what makes them such a strong monster to begin with.

Zombies are the ultimate horror monster because they concretize the worst of humanity both intellectually and visually--the death brought about by collectivism. It's important to note here that collectivism is more than becoming part of a group. That definition is far too simplistic. For instance, sometimes it's good to be part of a group. No, collectivism is a manner of living that always favors the group over the individual. In yourself, it's sacrificing your individuality to fit in--changing your words, actions, and appearances and suppressing your thoughts. In other people, it's ignoring their unique situations and personalities in favor of inclusion in a group--racism, us vs them, religion, the greater good, cultural "movements." From either perspective, it leads to death. That's exactly what zombies are: dead, decaying, mindless, and indistinguishable from one another. Likewise, a single zombie is not scary because it's easy to outsmart and outrun. What makes zombies scary is they often end up wandering in packs or hoards. Though slow and lumbering, a bunch together are frightening because they're all using the same tactics to reach the same goal (to take away the brains the alive still have). In contrast, the living use each of their individual skills, knowledge, and thought processes to survive.

Perhaps it seems like I've given away the point of my movie with that last sentence, but that approach would be far too simple. What makes a story good is it's complexity. I'd like to explore different ways collectivism can manifest in the "us vs them" mentality forged by people who hold the belief that their survival is dependent upon the destruction of others. The main character will encounter two different versions of that belief concretized in an organized city populace and a disorganized group living in the wilderness. However, the city population doesn't see the wilderness as the group that needs to be destroyed and vice versa. Rather, the city sees anyone who doesn't want to follow their rules as dangerous to the group's survival whereas the wilderness sees anyone who isn't aggressively self reliant as dangerous. Yes, those perspectives are the same only manifested differently. That's part of the complexity. And remember, an extra layer is added when I introduce my evolution of the zombie concept to the equation.

Of course, all of this exposition will be couched in the most important part, main character's journey. Right now I'm developing characters and the natural conflicts that would arise between them. Then I can figure out how to thread the main character's story through it all. I also need to flesh out his arc more. I know how it starts and some basic beats, but without knowing its climax, it's hard to go anywhere. I suppose that'll be my next step. From there I can make a character and overall beat list.

I'll post more updates to this projects in the coming weeks.


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