For those of you not familiar with the novels, Autumn began it’s life as an ebook by David Moody and was available free online for almost 6 years, during which time it was downloaded almost 500,000 times. Unfortunately for you, if the first of you hearing about it is because of the movie, it’s no longer available online but is available to buy in print.
Renegade Motion Pictures have produced the adaptation of Autumn the movie and despite being low budget managed to secure a couple of big budget actors in the form of David Carradine (Kill Bill 1&2, The Serpent’s Egg) and Dexter Fletcher(Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Stardust). It would be remiss of me not to note that this will be the first film of Carradine’s since his passing, though others are in post-production and the world of cinema and tv is a lesser place without him, RIP.
In a spot of controversy Renegade have been forced to release screeners early as illegally released, unfinished version has found it’s way onto the web and Zombie Command have been lucky enough to get a copy of it.
Autumn kills 99.9% of the population in the opening minutes we’re soon left with the remnants of society struggling to come to terms with what has happened. A brief time after the survivors come together in the middle of town the dead begin to rise from where they fell but, unlike traditional zombies, these undead aren’t determined to kill the living. Instead these docile creatures will wander in whatever path they’re pointed in until they find an obstacle they can’t overcome and then turn and walk in a different direction.
Indeed, as per the book, the word zombie is never mentioned and early on it sets the stage for the real danger to be disease and the survivors that remain. After discussing the various ways to progress (stay in a group, split off) the main protagonist, Michael (Dexter Fletcher), sets off with a few others to find a place far away from the cities to start a new life.
Conflict arises again when those who want to rule the new world split up from those who want to build a better one and finally Michael, Carl (Dickon Tolson) and Emma (Lana Kamenov) settle into a farm to create their new life but, as we all know, there are no happily ever afters and the zombies start to regain their senses and their instinct to hunt.
With no immediate danger for much of the movie, Autumn is free to explore the characters but it’s unfortunate that there’s little consistent motivation for each, often with characters seemingly suffering from intermittent explosive disorder and bipolar tendencies.
Secondary characters are introduced and discarded with little relevance to the main story and you’ve long forgotten the ones that are revisited so that you’re never quite sure if they are the same people as before.
The lack of immediacy also seems to have rubbed off on the director and editor with lingering shots (one time stretch edit was ridiculous) and the addition of random scenes that could have easily been cut to bring the running time down to a more manageable 90 minutes.
For a budget indie flick I quite liked the subdued effects of the zombies as they slowly rotted away and while never matching the modern zombie movies for out and out gore it never really needed to.
Ultimately though from, what I presume, is sticking too closely to the book the movie suffers from confusing the viewer with incidental shots, unannounced dream sequences, rapid scene changes (soundtrack was un-mastered so J Cuts may help lessen the jarring effect) and a lack of focus on the main characters.