I Am Omega (2007)
Mark Dacascos (Renchard), Jennifer Lee Wiggins(Brianna), Geoff Meed (Vincent), Ryan Lloyd (Mike)
“Griff! GRIFF! Get the fuck in here! GRIIIIIIIFFFF! Fuck, hurry up! Listen, Warner Brothers is doing a new movie based on I Am Legend, it’s gonna be fucking huge! So what I want you to do, go get Geoff, have him write a script. He has until tomorrow morning, don’t waste my fucking time with rewrites we’re on a time crunch here. Whatever he can write in six hours will be fine. Don’t even fucking read it, just take it, this check for $1000, and the keys to our one industrial park backlot. Now go throw a dart at the wall of celebrities suffering a career slump and find our leading man. Oh yeah, we’re gonna need a name. Uh. Uh. Uhhhhhh. I Am Legend. The Last Man on Earth. The Omega Man. Oh! Fuck, I Am Omega. Fucking golden. Now get outta here, I want this movie shot, edited, and ready to be on store shelves in two months!” – President of The Asylum, allegedly.
Hey, remember The Asylum? They’re the producer/distributor of the Sharknado movies and mainly traffic in “mockbusters”; movies with titles like Transmorphers, The Day the Earth Stopped, and Age of Hobbits that are released at the same time as blockbuster movies with similar titles in a bid to sell substandard product to rubes that don’t read DVD covers. If you’re a regular column reader then you’ll recognize them as the studio that brought us Death Racers the movie that managed to combine plagiarism of Death Race with religious film production values, racist and misogynist overtones, and packaged it as a vehicle for The Insane Clown Posse. Did you think we were done with that asshole factory? We’re not.
So when I did The Last Man on Earth, I mentioned that Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend had been adapted to film three and a half times. This is the half. Even ignoring the not-quite-close-enough-to-sue title, I Am Omega borrows from The Omega Man quite a bit. The biggest ripoffs involve the main character, Renchard shouting “there is no radio!” to silence his clock radio in much the way Charlton Heston stops a phone from ringing in The Omega Man. Renchard also has a mannequin in a hat sat his table that he converses with, similar to Heston’s bust of Caesar which itself was taken from the first act of The World, The Flesh, and The Devil.
Now, I have to fully admit something upfront. I didn’t hate this movie, I might even watch it again at some point. Part of that is because I’m grading on a curve, this being an Asylum release and all, but on a scale of Titanic 2 to King of the Ants it’s a pretty solid film. I also must confess that my enjoyment is a bit biased since I fucking love Mark Dacascos.
Dacascos isn’t the best actor in the world but he’s got a very expressive face that makes up for his line delivery most of the time and he is a legitimate martial artist with actual skills. I’ll watch anything with Mark Dacascos in it. TV friendly remake of The Crow? I legitimately love it. Pretending to be The Chairman’s nephew on the US version of Iron Chef? Weird, but sure. Playing a native American in Brotherhood of the Wolf? Wow, that’s super insensitive but whatever, I’m onboard. Other than maybe Dean Cain, Mark Dacascos has made me sit through more awful movies than anyone else just because I’m happy he’s getting work.
Right out the gate, I can see that somebody cared about this movie. Director Griff Furst has gone on to a somewhat more promising directorial career and I don’t find that surprising. This movie has a lot of the hallmarks of an Asylum movie but there’s an air of competence to the directing that is noticeably above par. I can also tell that somebody’s a Sam Raimi fan due to the jump cut montages early in the film. Dacascos looks great, he’s still in great shape and athletic as hell. The only problem is that Dacascos is clearly a much better fighter than any of the stuntmen in zombie make-up so his best moves are used in a training montage.
Honestly, I Am Omega is a pretty decent movie but it was clearly rushed into production. The dialogue is tragic and I would say that this 90-minute movie has, liberally, 35 minutes of plot. There’s a lot of treading water here with Dacascos’ Renchard fighting and being attacked by zombies, taping explosives to things, staring at MREs, having hallucinations, and training. One particularly pointless scene involves Renchard driving to a barn where he grabs a six-pack of beer out of a min-fridge and grabs a can of gasoline, leaving some money on a table in front of a corpse.
The plot does eventually rumble to a start at the end of the first act when Renchard finally answers the video call he’s been getting for the first thirty minutes of the film. The person on the other end is Brianna, a survivor who became trapped in downtown L.A. while trying to get to a safe haven called Antioch. She asks for Renchard’s help but he declines for reasons which are never adequately explained.
Renchard and Brianna’s call are intercepted by Vincent (the film’s writer Geoff Meed) who tells Renchard that Brianna is immune to the zombie virus and blows up his house to force him to come along on the rescue mission. The rest of this paragraph spoils the movie. So Vincent is actually part of some weird Neo-Nazi group that feels that the virus made the world a “utopia” where Darwinism is the law of the land. If Brianna lives and a cure is developed from her blood then the world will return to normal. The problem is that if Vincent wanted Brianna dead, all he had to do was leave her in the city because Renchard has it rigged to explode and he explicitly mentions the explosives when he first meets Renchard. Vincent seemingly only wants to rape Brianna which seems like a lot of work considering that there are probably other women who aren’t trapped dead in the center of a major zombie nest. I imagine the screenplay for this movie was a wad of crumpled up napkins that Geoff Meed hastily scrawled on because his boss wanted it by the end of the day.
Mark Dacascos and, to a lesser extent Geoff Meed, class up the joint a bunch with some pretty decent acting. Jennifer Lee Wiggins gives a pretty sorry performance and she plays Brianna like a character from an entirely different film. Admittedly the dialogue is pretty awful so I’m not gonna be too hard on any of the actors for not being able to sell it. The production values are surprisingly solid. The zombies are clearly just stuntmen covered in shredded latex and fake blood, and I’m fairly certain that half of them are the same guy. Still, everything is lit well, there’s no jerky camera, and the sound levels are all decent.
I Am Omega is an okay movie; not bad or good. The movie mostly kills time between bullet points and there just isn’t much to absorb, I took very few notes on this movie for that very reason. There are worse things you can do with your time than watch I Am Omega but your life won’t be empty for lack of seeing it.
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