When something in the public lexicon becomes reasonably popular, this will inevitably lead to knock-offs. The Asylum, a micro-budget production company, has turned this inevitability into a business model. A quick scan of their filmography reveals a treasure trove of generic titles vaguely inspired by big studio releases and a quick glance at a thesaurus. Some of these include, but are not limited to, Snakes on a Train, The Da Vinci Treasure, Transmorphers, and AVH: Alien vs. Hunter.
Asylum's I Am Omega was released a full month before I Am Legend, so it cannot be considered a true knock-off. However, with The Omega Man in 1977, The Last Man on Earth in 1964, and Richard Matheson's 1954 novel, it could hardly be considered anything close to original.
The film stars martial artist and Iron Chef America chairman Mark Dacascos as Renchard (not Richard), the last man on earth after a global pandemic turns everyone into rabid cannibal zombie vampire monsters infected with Rage. He holes himself up in a flimsy shack outside of the city, surrounded by an even flimsier chain link fence, and installs an alarm system with lights that look suspiciously similar to those in a DP's light kit.
The first 35 minutes are devoted primarily to the doldrums of Renchard's day-to-day life. While I Am Legend took this concept and made it relatively engaging, I Am Omega uses it as a means of padding a 50 minute concept into a feature film. Renchard eats food, gets drunk, plants bombs around the city, fiddles with his MacBook, and reminisces about his dead wife and son in 8mm filmstrips.
Despite the complete destruction of humanity, the 3G Network continues to hum along, as Renchard is contacted by Brianna (Jennifer Lee Wiggins), a survivor who looks startlingly like his dead wife (if only because Wiggins plays both roles).
Naturally, Renchard ignores the distress call for entirely unknown reasons, and the film continues to discard the "last man on earth" angle even further when he is visited by two mercenaries from Antioch (a city full of thousands of other survivors). Vincent (Geoff Meed, also the screenwriter) is the tattooed leader who uses the word "compadre" more than is socially acceptable, and Mike (Ryan Lloyd) is his mousy bro lover. When Renchard refuses to help them save Brianna, whose blood may contain the anti-virus, they blow up his house.
He agrees to guide them through the "underground network of sewers" (also known as "sewers") on one condition: no live fire, due to gas leaks. The two agree, and Renchard leads the way, automatic weapon in hand.
Renchard finds Brianna, only to learn that the two mercenaries are not from Antioch, and have no interest in developing the anti-virus. In fact, the rescue mission was designed to assure Brianna is killed, so the world remains in chaos and pestilence. Of course, they could have just waited for her to starve to death, zombie vampires to kill her, or Renchard's bombs to blow up the city. In fact, the plan they concocted is the absolute worst way to assure her demise, but considering he wants to live in a world devoid of electricity, running water, women, medicine, infrastructure and Nachos Bell Grande, thinking rationally is not his strong suit.
Though the first act sticks reasonably well to the source material, it is eye-crustingly boring and detracts from the film's true desire to be a mindless C-level zombie flick. Like in a survival horror game, creatures pop out with no consideration of time or space. Renchard moves into a new area, there is a brief loading screen, and the A.I. resets.
Once I Am Omega gets into the meat of the plot, it's actually quite entertaining. Sure it's ludicrously cheesy, full of cliches, shot on the fly, and made solely to confuse people browsing at Blockbuster, but they at least attempt to make it fun. I would rather watch Mark Dacascos nunchuck stuntmen in a parking garage than some film student's 16mm magnum opus about white people in their 20s sitting on a futon and talking.
What to drink:
A Billy Bass (shot of everclear dropped into an expired can of tuna)
"THERE IS NO RADIO!"
"I'm pissin' on you, world. I'M PISSIN' ON YOU!"
"I am so fucking tired of you... BITCHES!"
"I was gonna make sweet love to you."
Arbitrary ranking system:
3.7 five-pointed polygons out of 9.