Rather than a movie, Automaton Transfusion plays out more like a director’s audition tape. There isn’t much of a plot until the very end and the characters don’t have much going for them; but the special effects are remarkable for such limited funds (a budget of $30,000 according to bloody-disgusting.com’s review, $50,000 according to wikipedia) and the pacing is as brisk as it needs to be, and we can see that this is a filmmaker who – with a higher budget, better actors, and a stronger script – might someday produce a great piece of work.
The general premise is as simple and cliché as might be expected from a movie of such modest means: over the course of about 24 hours, the inhabitants of a small town are transformed into zombies, leaving a band of survivors (high schoolers in this one) to take up arms against the sprinting hordes and try to make their way out of town while piecing together an explanation for why it’s all happening. We don’t find much of a story until the final fifteen minutes, when a government conspiracy is reeled into the mix shortly before a surprisingly exciting climax leads to the “TO BE CONTINUED” card.
It’s your average lab-based zombie epidemic romp, and though it isn’t very good, the fact that it was accomplished on such a small budget, and that it shows a bit of promise and potential for writer/director Stephen C. Miller (with regard to his direction, not his writing, which is awful), its cavernous plot holes and narrative poverty seem almost forgivable, and I subsequently feel inclined to give the film more credit than the work independently deserves.
The dialogue and acting are oftentimes painful, and the attempts at suspense are frustratingly superfluous since we know that every scene will end with gratuitous gore and violence, because we know that the filmmakers know that they’d be disappointing their very niche audience if they didn’t provide the gore, and so seeing as how the purpose of suspense is to make the audience fidget and wonder if something terrible is going to happen, and we as the audience already know that something terrible is going to happen (it’s what we’re paying for), why bother with it? We have no reason to care for any of these characters; subsequently, their deaths are inconsequential, and should be depicted with a suiting passivity. Nobody’s breaking a sweat over whether the mortician’s assistant, who’s spoken three or four lines, is about to get eaten; we’re just waiting for it.
Automaton Transfusion may satisfy a passive urge to see some rampant violence of a particular sort, but it doesn’t offer much else. Let’s hope the sequels turn out better.
A Blockbuster Exclusive version of the film is available for rent, and features a director’s commentary and a few other special features, ready and untouched on the Horror shelves of most Miami Blockbusters.