Firstly, you can tell that Redcon-1 is trying to be a different type of zombie film, one that sits more comfortably in the war genre than the horror one. The soldiers are the main focal point of the film, rather than the zombies, and the film (especially at the beginning) pushes the parallel between the fight against zombies and real life war. This is an interesting take on the genre, granted one that we’ve seen before but not too often.
As such, Redcon-1 tries hard to create a sense of realism; wanting to make the viewer think what the world would be like if a zombie outbreak did really happen. Unfortunately, it just can’t maintain this realism for longer than the first 10 minutes. This is largely because nearly every action, sequence or plot point in the film is just hugely unrealistic, which simply destroys the film’s verisimilitude quicker than it’s being built. Now this isn’t usually a problem, this is a zombie film after all, expect when you are trying to be both real and unrealistic it just creates a heap of confusion for the viewer.
One massive example of this is the zombies. Once again the film takes an interesting approach and should be commended for its attempt to shake-up the tired stereotype of the zombie. The zombies in Redcon-1 aren’t like any old zombies, what is interesting is that they still seem to hold a semblance of their former humanity, to the point where they can fight, use weapons and even function as teams. Alas, this type of zombie ultimately lends itself more to comedy than horror as they just end up coming off really weird – there’s no better example of this than the underground fight sequence.
What’s more, whilst the technical elements of the film, like cinematography and editing, aren’t actually too bad (it’s even quite good in places) it largely remains very one-note throughout, and feels very ‘put together’. The film doesn’t seem to slow down when it’s trying to build tension, or speed up when there’s an action sequence (not by much anyway). This means the zombies don’t come off particularly scary and the action sequences are just kind of lame. Moreover, it never quite manages to hit the emotional beats of the film (although this is also hindered by the performances). It does seem to get a bit better about half way through when there are less characters to worry about, so you can actually start to get to know them, but it sadly doesn’t last for long.
Regrettably, Redcon-1 ends up being a weird and confusing film that just isn’t very good. It’s a shame because you can tell the filmmakers and actors are trying hard to give the audience an entertaining and thought-provoking experience, but sadly they succeed for all the wrong reasons. However, I would urge them not to give up - there is a golden nugget buried somewhere within Redcon-1 and I hope one day they find it.