Zombie films – love them or loathe them, they’re here to stay. Only a handful of zombie films stand out from the bunch. These use unique laws and plot devices that make them stick with the viewers. George A. Romero set the stage for these undead rotting vessels of fear. Night of The Living (1968) is still the blueprint for the rules of creating a long-lasting classic zombie flick. Steven Pierce’s Herd falls somewhere between memorable and familiar.
The film opens with Robert Miller (Corbin Bernsen) speeding down a dirt road to get to a barn. In a panic, he rushes in and leaves the door ajar. He rushes to alert people over the radio of some unseen threat. A dark figure emerges in the barn (coming in through the open door) and the audience is introduced to Pierce’s version of a zombie and dines (offscreen) on a panicked Miller.
The audience is then swept away from the horror to meet Jamie Miller (Ellen Adair). She is preparing to go on a camping trip with her wife Alex (Mitzi Akaha). This isn’t a fun getaway though as the two are going through a rough patch and this is a way for Jamie to appease her wife. They are aware of an illness affecting people. But even though there is some worry about catching this illness, the marital issues outweigh the danger.
Jamie tries to contact her dad via the telephone before heading out, but she is met with an answering machine message. We then are introduced to some memories of childhood trauma involving her father. This is something that still haunts her and affects her relationships with people (including her wife). The trip goes swimmingly for a couple of days before the married couple gets into an argument on the water and both fall out of the canoe they’re in. One thing leads to another and Alex’s leg is broken underwater.
Both actresses have the hard task of engaging the audience for the first half of the film and both do splendidly. There is a definite connection between Adair and Akaha, this only escalates as the film progresses.
The women eventually are taken into a colony of survivors and Alex’s leg is looked at by a vet. The colony is run by Big John (Jeremy Holm) who knows Jamie (from her youth) and her father. From here, Herd adds another element of danger into the plot in the form of a rival militia run by a stone-faced Sterling. Both gangs have a goal of acquiring medicines and rations to keep their healthy members alive.
The element of fear of homophobia is explored in a few instances as we find out Jamie’s father Robert doesn’t approve of his daughter’s way of life. This pops up again while Big John takes Jamie and Alex to the colony. She fears that they also won’t approve of the two women being a married couple. This is an interesting aspect to throw into a zombie/outbreak film, but it is a welcome air of freshness. It gets the audience invested in the characters and storyline, while also building excitement for the zombies to rear their puss-filled faces.
Sadly, the story only takes a peek at these social issues and then falls right back into the typical zombie shoot-them-up film. The zombies don’t run, the zombies don’t love, but they have a unique way of being dismantled (You’ll have to watch the film for more on this).
Herd is a film full of action, decent practical effects, interesting zombies and a very decent cast. The story starts out strong and looks like the audience will be treated to something truly different in the zombie genre. Ellen Adair as Jamie really shines and comes out as a heroine worth watching. Although not as interesting as Romero’s classic zombie movie, Steven Pierce does a decent job with Herd.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Action, Horror
- Release Date: 10/ 13 /2023
- Directed by: Steven Pierce
- Starring: Corbin Bernsen, Ellen Adair, Jeremy Holm, Mitzi Akaha
- Produced by: Bret Carr, James Allerdyce, Lori Kay, Steven Pierce
- Written by: James Allerdyce, Steven Pierce
- Studio: Dark Sky Films, Framework Production