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Review: Sam & Mattie Make A Zombie Movie – “A funny and touching film”

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The documentary follows the story of Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt, two teenage friends with Down Syndrome from Providence, Rhode Island in their efforts to write, star in and shoot their dream movie project, ‘Spring Break Zombie Massacre’. Assisted and directed by Jesse Suchmann (Sam’s brother) and Robert Carnevale, Sam and Mattie storyboard their ideas until they have enough to create a workable script. Robert and Sam then create a Kickstarter which takes off and they achieve and surpass their financial goal to fund the shoot.

The filming and final version (which Sam & Mattie have final cut) of ‘Spring Break Zombie Massacre’ plays out like a typical teenage boy’s fantasy, with martial arts, loud music, gore, girls and of course, zombies galore. Sam and Mattie have no time for any patronising stereotypes about people with Down Syndrome being ‘disabled’, as the directors wrestle with their stars to try and keep the film PG-13 with ‘questionable scenes’ and lots of people getting kicked in the dick. Think the Farrelly brothers directing the cast of Jackass in a Zombie film and you’re about there.

The reaction of their home town of Providence is inspiring as friends, family, businesses and the wider community all come to their aid in helping make the dream become a reality. Their story goes viral and before they can say ‘exploding demon zombie head’, they’re on news channels throughout the country, guesting on Conan O’Brien and doing a read-through of their script with the gross-out godfather, Peter Farrelly of There’s Something About Mary fame.

Where this film stands apart is in its honesty as another unseen story unfolds. It tells of Sam and Mattie’s disillusion with their own college experiences, how it wasn’t all just one endless spring break frat-kegger and although the boys have each other and wonderfully supportive families, for them it was never about making it big, fame and celebrity. At the very core of the whole crazy zombie circus they created was their need to just hang out and spend more time with Jesse and Robert. It gives an insight into the great joy such creative collaboration can bring, not only to them, but to everyone that gets involved.

‘Sam & Mattie’ gives a great insight into Kickstarter film making and how passion, imagination and 70 gallons of fake blood can galvanise people into action. It’s a funny and touching film that looks at how creative collaboration can strengthen bonds and further our understanding of our own relationships. If you’re going to watch one low-budget, schlock gorefest, don’t watch yet another Nic Cage film, watch Sam & Mattie Make A Zombie Movie, you’ll get much more out of it.

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