Zombie films are a dime a dozen. They’re inescapable and more often than not, offer little more than frantic running, unrealistic gore, loud gunshots, and unlikable characters. I could go on and on about all of the reasons why the zombie sub-genre has quickly become a major thorn in my side, but then a film like Extinction comes along and proves that there’s still a little bit of life to be squeezed out of this increasingly stale format.

Extinction exists in an arctic and barren world. A world with, seemingly, only 3 inhabitants; two men and a young girl. We’re never told why the climate is stuck on frost – maybe it’s just a really bad winter. All we know is that there was an outbreak about 9 years ago, and all of the creatures are suspected to be long deceased. The two men share a checkered past, and you’ll spend a great deal of time trying to piece together where this tension stems from. The young girl is the daughter of one of them and has never known a world outside of these two men. She longs for adulthood and excitement, and she’s about to get both.

The story is simple and relatively uninventive, but it’s the performances of these 3 people that sell this film. Every single one of them have delivered something in which they can be proud of. The dialogue is well written and acted to perfection… I can’t stress that enough. Unfortunately (depending on how you choose to look at it), a world as empty and frozen as this simply doesn’t exist. That means Extinction relies heavily on CGI to create its environment. Truth be told, it’s not that bad. But any CGI is jarring in this day and age. Moments of obvious green screen work really jump out at you due to the high production values throughout the rest of the film. The creatures/zombies themselves are quite intense. Sure, they have a little CGI as well, but it’s not nearly as jarring as the environments. They move with a silky smooth sort of motion as they track their pray with their superhuman-esque hearing. The fact that the creatures are completely blind only adds to the suspense and tension down the road. That particular plot device is used well and sparringly.

As Extinction progresses, you find yourself caring less and less about the threat of the creatures and more about the men and girl. When things get rocky for the trio, you have legitimate unease about their well being. At least, I did. That’s the secret here. Writing a zombie film that unfolds as a drama is the cool thing to do right now, but it takes some major class and skill to pull off each sub-genre equally well. Extinction’s execution is only held back by it’s ambition. The faux backdrop of this apocalyptic ice scape definitely reminds you that this is all pretend, and that’s never good. Fortunately, A+ performances and the ability to be more than the average zombie flick make this a film that zombie fans and haters alike are sure to enjoy.

Give me more like Extinction and maybe I’ll be forced to rethink my stance on zombie culture.