Two best friends fresh off their high school experience and exploring college make the bold decision to make a movie together, hence Sam and Mattie Make a Zombie Movie. Sure, it’s a story we’ve probably heard before, but Sam and Mattie aren’t just any “badass best friends” (as they call themselves). Sam and Mattie both have Down Syndrome, and their plan to make Spring Break Zombie Massacre is going to take a lot of help, faith, trust, and work to bring to life.
Sam and Mattie Make a Zombie Movie is a love-filled documentary about the wild ride of making Spring Break Zombie Massacre, Sam and Mattie’s 50 page script, into a premiere-worthy feature film. Somehow, probably due to their winning personalities and dedication, almost their whole town of Providence, Rhode Island comes together to make it happen. Of course, there are hiccups along the way, but there are also incredible triumphs, like a trip to visit Alterian FX shop and Hollywood makeup effects artist Tony Gardner. Somehow, in spite of an insane script breakdown outlining 22 locations and countless thousands of dollars in pyrotechnics and effects, the movie gets made and gets its screen premiere.
In a unique twist, this documentary also features the film itself, spending the first half of the movie exploring behind-the-scenes moments that led to the production, and the second half running the movie itself, as if we are experiencing the premiere in person. There are a few moments that cut away, back to an important behind the scenes fact or moment – like when Sam and Mattie met with a favorite burrito joint to work out product placement – and score some free catering.
Crushing disability stereotypes and joyfully following their bliss, Sam and Mattie are inspiring without being lauded as inspiration porn. They’re down to earth, real, and everyone treats them as equals. They hit their snags and triumph over them. They share their frustrations, not just with filmmaking but with their college experience. It’s heartwarming to see their friends and newfound friends come out to help them make their film dreams come true, against all odds.
There is not a moment of Sam and Mattie Make a Zombie Movie that isn’t filled with joy and triumph. Sure, there’s plenty of blood, too (apparently over 70 gallons), some demons, devil pee, and lots of zombies … but what else would expect from a movie about the making of something called Spring Break Zombie Massacre?