Charles B. Unger’s My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving is the story of a special needs adult named Marcus (Joshua Warren Bush) who lives in a group home and is utterly obsessed with zombies. The greatest joy in his life is his favorite TV show, Apocalyptic Zombies. When challenging situations occur for Marcus, he imagines himself fending off the zombies in the show. His life is stable, and he has a family of sorts among the residents of the group home, but life changes when he learns that his mother is still alive. He decides to go find her and reunite with her. In the course of this quest, he encounters a Korean family who takes him in, teaches him more adult skills, and offers him a job. He also winds up entangled with a street gang who sees him as a gullible mark who can be tricked into helping them steal from the Korean family.
My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving sees Marcus through a crucial new phase of life as he begins to understand which people in his life truly have his best interests at heart. Joshua Warren Bush presents Marcus carefully and with great sensitivity. He’s clearly played as challenged but never as an object of ridicule. All of the special needs characters in the film are handled with respect. As Marcus learns hard life lessons, he frequently falls back into the safe space in his mind of his favorite zombie tv show. Inside the show-within-the-film, the characters are broad and cartoonish and make bad decisions on a regular basis. It gives him a good reference standard for what not to do.
“…a feel-good holiday B-movie about zombies….”
The filmmakers actually do have experience with mentally challenged adults. Writer/Producer Richard Soriano has been taking care of special needs adults in situations similar to the group home in the film. He talks about their motivations in the film website blog: “Our hope is to show a more realistic view of balancing their rights versus their safety and the safety of others. Humanizing them is also another goal, for we are all lovable in God’s eyes regardless if we are different or similar. We all share that we are humans first.“
Thanksgiving is a time when thoughts of gathering with family come to mind, making it a perfect holiday setting for this film. It is Thanksgiving both in the film and in Marcus’ TV show as well. As films go, it should be obvious by now that this is not high-art cinema. The production values are low, and the acting is mediocre. Think of My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving as a low-budget indie horror version of a seasonal Hallmark movie. It was quite a feat to create that vibe, but Unger and Soriano have succeeded in giving us a feel-good holiday B-movie about special needs people and zombies. Fill up on turkey and pie and check it out.
For screening information, visit the My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving official website.