With its scenes of a lone black man sifting through the ruins of a zombie apocalypse while he flashes back to memories of life before the outbreak, Wasteland could be described as a British I Am Legend — give or take $150 million in budget.
Shameer Seepersand is the poor man’s Will Smith here, playing an electrician named Scott who leaves the city for an isolated cottage in the countryside when the outbreak occurs because: 1) he feels it’s safer, 2) he’s a coward who prefers to run rather than fight and 3) the movie couldn’t afford to show a city in ruins.
Initially, he’s joined by his white girlfriend Beth, but she soon ditches him to go to London to search for her family. We never see what she encounters there, but it surely would have made for a more exciting film than watching Scott scavenge for food, brush his teeth (for some reason using his very scarce bottled water) and mope about, pining for Beth.
He does brain the occasional zombie, but the action is tame, unimaginative and reflective of the low budget. The zombies, who ironically move much faster than the movie’s pace, don’t feel like zombies as much as just plain ol’ crazy people; I swear one of them even tries to punch Scott. Are zombies teaching other hand-to-hand combat now?
He eventually encounters a few other living people, but that only provides more fuel for dull conversational scenes. A twist near the end feels like a forced effort to add some meaning to Scott’s existence, but it just ends up reminding us how little plot there was throughout the rest of the film.
I’ve read that the writers of Wasteland were inspired by the riots that rocked the UK in 2011, but the issues of social, economic and racial inequality that sparked those uprisings aren’t touched upon here. It seems like the only thing this apocalypse has in common with the real-life events is strictly a superficial sense of chaos.
Seepersand’s performance is decent — not great, but likable enough to support a movie in which he’s on screen in pretty much every scene. It’s too bad most of those scenes are boring as hell. With its frequent flashbacks, the story’s structure sets itself up to reveal something tragic or insightful about Scott’s plight, but it never takes advantage of what could’ve been a useful plot device. Talk about a waste…