Denise Watson(Anita Skinner), an up and coming producer for a television studio, remarkably survives an airplane crash. It seems Denise has even found a new man in her life, the physician who nursed her back to health, Dr. Brian Richardson(Kurt Johnson). Yet, there's this state of unease that exists and Denise notices strange individuals standing from afar. An older actress, Karla Davis(Caren L Larkey), returning from 6 years of obscurity living pretty much as a recluse, is supposed to be starring in a series of coffee commercials for Denise's company. Karla claims that she has psychic premonitions and attempts to warn Denise of potential danger she envisions in her nightmares. Through Karla we discover that Denise was not suppose to survive(..this is presented in a very subtle way)her plane crash, and, in fact, those unusual folks that seem to follow Denise are in fact undead corpses, perhaps used to reclaim the one who got away from the clutches of death. When an unfortunate series of violent circumstances arise as others encounter those undead corpses "assigned" to "retrieve" Denise, she will have to depend on Brian for help, reluctant and unconvinced, at first, until his own personal investigations turn up some really odd information(..certain corpses moved into a coroner's lab show signs of blood collection in their legs as if they had died standing;and a particular corpse, which kills someone close to Denise, shown as to have died of a coronary, actually was muddy and wet and lying in his car seat in a way not associated with the forensic evidence). Can Denise escape from death that is stalking her? Will Brian be able to save her?
This was a nice surprise. Pretty spooky little movie, with limited violence(..the zombies of the film attack humans who pose a threat to their mission). Director Thom Eberhardt is more concerned with building that state of unrest and that terror towards the heroine intensifies as the zombies of the film gradually become more of a threat. At first, the undead watch from afar, lifeless and emotionless, as if they had moved from the slab to spy on her. Then with each appearance, they are more and more threatening(..the parking garage scene where Denise narrowly escapes in an elevator as a zombie closes in from behind is an effectively suspenseful sequence), until those who aren't particularly targets fall prey to them for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A quite interesting twist develops regarding those who are killed by the zombies, themselves pose a threat to Denise's life. I really liked how Eberhardt establishes the undead predators, often shooting them from far away..kind of reminds me of Michael Myers, who looks on at a target before setting in for the kill. The eerie shots of the silent city at night with the streets practically empty(..with his camera particularly interested in store window mannequins)are quite effective, and I thought Eberhardt produces a great sense of hopelessness as Denise slowly descends from a confident and calm working woman into a nervous wreck popping pills, downing booze, and smoking because of her supernatural stalkers. I also appreciated the ambiguity behind the whole film, using dialogue and performance to convey the truth at what is transpiring to the tragic character of Denise and those in her inner circle attempting to run from her own mortality, death never ceasing to stop until it can secure her soul. Big thanks to Code Red for releasing this on DVD so that a new audience can appreciate it(..like a lot of cases, those behind the making of the film received no rewards for their labor due to the distributors). Eberhardt would go on to direct the cult hit, NIGHT OF THE COMET. As others have mentioned, SOLE SURVIVOR is quite reminiscent of CARNIVAL OF SOULS, although the films have very different types of female leads being pursued by very different types of ghoulish predators.Robinson Davidson also stars as Denise's reliable teenage neighbor, Kristy. Brinke Stevens has an early role as one of Kristy's school chums, who must remove her bra during a game of strip poker. My favorite sequence would have to be the chilling nightmare where Karla sees the aftermath of the plane crash as bodies lay dead amongst the debris with Denise seated alone in a dazed state.