Zombie Girl: The Movie is a rare addition to the zombie world: a documentary. The film follows Emily Hagins, a 12-year-old girl who wants to make a zombie movie, who enlists her mother, father, friends and neighbors to help her make it.
On the surface, Zombie Girl has all the makings to be a companion to the 1999 documentary American Movie, which followed Wisconsin horror director wanna-be Mark Borchardt in his quest to make a movie. American Movie often benefited from the situations and conversations that the eccentric Borchardt and his burned-out best buddy Ken. A documentary about a 12-year-old making a zombie movie seems like it would achieve some similar hilarious moments. However, that's the problem that Zombie Girl suffers from.
Besides the usual problems that a first-time director might face, such as lacking extras, time management, some creative arguments (in this case with Hagins' mom) and accidentally taping over scenes, production on Hagins' movie Pathogen happens about the way you think it would for a 12-year-old. When directors Justin Johnson, Aaron Marshall, and Erik Mauck initially found out about Hagins, they had to have thought they were going to encounter a quirky, possibly maladjusted, young girl when they decided to make Zombie Girl, but they didn't. In fact, Hagins biggest drawback is being too normal.
It seems harsh to say, but Zombie Girl, as a movie, might have been better if Hagins had been the kind of inadvertently hilarious personality that Brochardt was. Without that potential comedy factor, Zombie Girl works as a long commercial for a movie you don't get to see much of, Hagins' Pathogen. Technology has certainly made the possibilities of DIY-filmmaking much more real, and while Pathogen seems like it would be about as good as a 12-year-old could make, it still doesn't seem like it would be as bad as some of the shit we've reviewed here that was made by capable adults.
That;s the strength of Zombie Girl: a documentary about a 12-year-old kids making a zombie movie seems like it would be documenting disaster, and the fact that Hagins looks like she mostly pulls it off is a pretty amazing story. It's just a shame she couldn't have fucked it up more along the way.