Redcon-1 review: A cheerily apocalyptic affair

The latest in the zombie genre sees Britain reduced to a state of anarchic chaos, following a viral outbreak and a prison riot

Geoffrey Macnab
Thursday 27 September 2018 14:03
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Katarina Leigh Waters as Sgt Kira Paige and Jasmine Mitchell as Alicia
Katarina Leigh Waters as Sgt Kira Paige and Jasmine Mitchell as Alicia

Dir: Chee Keong Cheung; Starring: Oris Erhuero, Carlos Gallardo, Mark Strange, Katarina Leigh Waters, Martyn Ford, Joshua Dickinson. Cert 18, 118 mins

The zombie movie is a genre that never dies. Redcon-1, the newest British foray into the world of the undead, is a cheerily apocalyptic affair that looks at least as if it must have been fun to make.

The plot is the usual hokum. Following a viral outbreak and a prison riot, Britain is reduced to a state of anarchic chaos. At first, the virus, which causes vomiting, psychotic behaviour and extreme violent aggression, appears to be contained within the southeast.

A crack group of eight special forces soldiers are sent out into the field to rescue Dr Julian Raynes, the mysterious scientist who may have been behind the outbreak and is the only chance of stopping it. They have 72 hours to complete their mission. They’re led by Captain Marcus Stanton (Oris Erhuero), British SAS.

Their ranks also include several US rangers, among them Sergeant Kira Page (played by WWE wrestler Katarina Leigh Waters). They set off down the Thames in two dinghies, hoping to get Raynes back, but looking for all the world as if they’re off on an action adventure weekend.

This may be a lowish budget film but director Chee Keong Cheung doesn’t skimp on either the fake blood or the extras. Every few minutes, the soldiers will come up against armies of salivating, eyeball-rolling zombies who want to eat them alive. The confrontations with the undead are invariably staged in slow motion for maximum grisly effect.

Captain Stanton befriends a blond-haired little girl whose sister has been devoured. This child has a remarkable immune system – and seems oblivious to the death of those closest to her in the most horrific circumstances imaginable.


At many moments, the film looks as if it is going to turn into a Shaun Of The Dead-style parody. It includes gratuitous nudity, even more gratuitous acoustic guitar playing, wooden dialogue and archly choreographed fight sequences.

You will struggle hard to find any allegory about Brexit or the end of capitalism hidden within the increasingly silly screenplay. Every so often, the filmmakers try to drum up some pathos. “He was a good soldier... and a good man,” Stanton says solemnly of a fallen comrade at an impromptu funeral between fights.

Soldiers will become infected but show selfless heroism, even as they are being eaten alive or are falling prey to vomiting fits. The commanding officers are just as duplicitous as we expect them to be. The film has no emotional resonance whatsoever. It is frequently crass and very derivative, but the filmmakers’ enthusiasm levels never flag. Nor, it goes without saying, does the bloodletting.

Redcon-1 is released in UK cinemas 28 September

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