Call the tow truck, ‘cause this one’s a clunker. Now when I first kicked the tires a decent concept fell out: Kirby Lane’s (Whitney Moore) SUV breaks down on a desert road. She calls OnStar. A charming Brit named Max (Stephen Tyler Howell) answers. He calls her a tow truck. What arrives is a shambling zombie. Then some more.
Had the plot focused on this predicament, Breakdown Lane would have been better off. There were just so many interesting dynamics to play with. Kirby falling in love with Max, who’s essentially a disembodied voice. Kirby’s struggle to survive a harsh environment with little food or water. All the while having to find new ways to fend off her undead attackers. Those are unique ideas. Infinitely more budget friendly than what the story later evolves into, as well. Did writer/director Bob Schultz just undervalue his original idea? Or was he talked into abandoning it for more middle of the road fare? Hold on, maybe my OnStar guy knows. But it’s not a muddled concept that truly stalls Breakdown Lane. It’s the execution. There’s underexposed night exteriors. Overexposed day interiors. Overmodulated sound. Jarring edits. Some films benefit from a low-fi approach. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre certainly did. Here though, the technical errors are just distracting. The run-time seems padded too. There’s comic book scene transitions. An over-reliance on time-lapses. Characters doing mundane things…for awhile. It’s as if they shot two thirds of a movie and needed to fill it in with, well, something.
Whitney Lane, who plays Kirby, is watchable. She’s beautiful, glib, and natural enough. She’s given plenty of one-liners. Most of which are pretty funny. Even if the scenarios she says them in aren’t. It makes me wish the filmmakers had just made this a comedy. They seem to have a knack for that, at least. But the drama? Not so much. The rest of the cast looks weird and acts weird. Which is its own bizarre form of entertainment.Excuse this tangent. But for those of you who do watch Breakdown Lane, I’d love for you to explain the film’s timeline to me. Kirby doesn’t seem aware of the zombie pandemic. Even though she’s constantly on her phone. I mean did she just skim over all those ‘The Dead Rise!’ headlines? Her boyfriend Vincent seems equally uninformed. As does the police officer who pulls Kirby over early on.
So when Kirby gets the whole “Zombies took over the world!” speech, I couldn’t help but think: well that happened fast. Especially since several characters Kirby encounters show signs of long term psychological damage. Or have adapted perfectly to the new world order. Wouldn’t that all take some time? Like a lot of time? And if the world’s gone to Hell, what’s the OnStar guy still doing at the office?
Look, I like films like Ti West’s The Roost. Movies that embrace a B-movie look. Or that grindhouse style. Yet those movies still need to be competently made. Breakdown Lane isn’t. There’s a few good ideas. Some wry jokes. A few so bad-they’re-good moments. Maybe enough to win over the sub-genre’s more hardcore fan base. Me though? I think I’ll take the next exit.
WICKED RATING: 2/10
Director(s): Bob Schultz & Robert Conway (special guest director)
Writer(s): Bob Schultz & Robert Conway (additional scenes written by)
Stars: Whitney Moore, Stephen Tyler Howell, Shane Dean
Release: May 16th, 2017
Studio/ Production Co: Breaking Glass Pictures
Length: 76 minutes
Sub-Genre: Zombies, Apocalypse