[Documentary Review] SAM & MATTIE MAKE A ZOMBIE MOVIE 
SAM & MATTIE MAKE A ZOMBIE MOVIE l Courtesy of Gravitas Ventures

“Rock on, go wild!” – Sam and Mattie

“Critics can French kiss my ass.” – Sam

In a world dominated by an abundance of content and accessibility, the zombie film has become a quick cash grab for seemingly every new film director. When SAM & MATTIE MAKE A ZOMBIE MOVIE arrived in my inbox to screen and review, I was slightly unenthused about diving in.  I had no exposure to the story, and I didn’t know the history of what I was about to view. I missed the Kickstarter campaign from 2014 and the story behind the documentary.

Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt are best friends living in Rhode Island. They are like so many other young men their age, firmly fueled by a love of horror movies, music, rap, and fun.

The surprise is that they were both born with Down’s Syndrome. Through their sheer enthusiasm and determination, they unite their families – including Brother Jesse Suchmann, their hometown businesses, and even some Hollywood movie creators like fellow Providence filmmaker Peter Farrelly and Make-Up Legend Tony Gardner to lend advice. At the same time, they embark on creating a movie featuring bionic brothers that fight zombies, demons, and demon zombies.

One hour and forty-seven minutes later, as the credits rolled, I sat in front of my screen sincerely inspired and joyous.

SAM & MATTIE MAKE A ZOMBIE MOVIE is a documentary behind these filmmakers, and bionic brother’s dream production, Spring Break Zombie Massacre. We meet these two best friends as they and their friends and family turn a dream into an innocent yet testosterone-fueled Zombie action movie. This film is a beautiful surprise.

The first half of this film is the making of the project documentary – A transparent and heartfelt story of refreshing to look back and see how friendship and dreams sometimes come true. We root for them as they reveal their imagination becomes a reality. There is a lot of heart and emotion captured by the camera. I defy anyone not to be captivated by these two sweet yet zombie-loving souls. Sam and Mattie’s honest tenacity to be who they are and do what they love is charming and addictive. I wish I had known more about this project in its infancy; I would have gladly lent my support.

You see the trials of their lives as they experience the soul-crushing reality of reality. Budget cuts… Creative differences… Mattie is stood up by his date for Prom. But then you share their triumphs. And then we see what the boys have produced – SPRING BREAK ZOMBIE MASSACRE. Every dreamer that ever wanted to make a film should watch this movie.

The 45-minute Massacre is a lot of fun to watch, knowing what went on behind the camera as a primer. Gore, zombie cliches, and it is exactly what you wanted it to be after spending some time getting to know these two and their extended family. Blood –  Guts – DJ Paulie – Music  – and heroic shots of badassery. And then there is Satan. This cinematic version of “old scratch” is like a bad-boy metal musician from the eighties, angered into a twenty-year vengeance sparked by the simple demand that he “grow up.” Did I mention he likes to show off his evil prowess by peeing on the carpet?

At the end of SAM & MATTIE MAKE A ZOMBIE MOVIE, the boys return to normalcy. After being celebrated by the masses, including Conan O’Brien, they return to their lives. The camera studies them and tries to put a melancholy coda to their experience. And after all the noise, the blood, the celebrity, and the fame, we see that they have not been changed by the experience save for one endearing trait. They believe that dreams can come true.

Gravitas Ventures has now released SAM & MATTIE MAKE A ZOMBIE MOVIE on a number of digital and cable platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, Spectrum, and Cox.

J. Michael Roddy
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