Rob Grant’s 2009 zombie film YESTERDAY was filmed three years ago in the summer of 2006. Grant and three of his college graduate friends managed to cobble together the $12,000 Canadian budget – a tiny amount in the movie world. Shooting on 16mm with an inexperienced crew for 31 days, the team worked tirelessly after school to edit and finish the film. The result could easily have been a total waste of time, but with great screenwriting and plenty of enthusiastic actors YESTERDAY is actually not bad.
Yesterday centres around six strangers, each of whom has his or her own back story – which soon reach a dead-end when, after chance meetings during a zombie outbreak, they flee into the wilderness together in a bid for survival. As it turns out, they are as much under threat from each other as they are from the zombies.
There’s nothing particularly new here, as far as the story goes. What Yesterday lacks in originality, however, it makes up for with a very fun script and some surprisingly good actors, who create an eclectic mix of characters: Office workers Graham (Jesse Wheeler) and Dave (Mike Fenske), shooting expert Mike (Mike Kovac), lovebird Chris (Graham Wardle), and bad guys Rob (Justin Sproule) and Lewis (Scott Wallis).
Whilst Wheeler and Fenske work really well together as Graham and Dave, giving us a few good laughs, the character that shines the most is Rob; this nasty and yet amusing lunatic is very well played by Sproule, who he kept me very entertained.
Yesterday’s zombies are nothing special, though their eyes do leak bloody tears. There are more make-up effects on some of them, but generally they aren’t very scary. Like George A Romero’s zombies, most of these walking corpses stumble around slowly. Unfortunately Grant chooses to have the odd few who can run, and I would have preferred it if they didn’t; with the lack of fantastic make-up effects, the ones that can move normally end up looking too ordinary. There’s something more ghoulish about these brainless creatures walking around – working solely on instinct, bumbling along en mass – that makes Romero’s zombies more sinister than their faster moving modern counterparts.
Not as scary as some zombie films, Yesterday has some good gore and tension, but it certainly won’t give you nightmares. It’s as funny as it is frightening. The direction is good, though some of the scenes are shot at too close range, and there’s quite a bit of static camera work. Given the budget and time constraints, Grant did quite well.
Whilst Yesterday isn’t exceptional, it is pretty entertaining. Grant tells me he could be on the brink of landing a distribution deal, and I hope he’s right, because his film deserves more than the few festival screenings it’s had so far.