Sometimes, Extinction is a zombie apocalypse story; mostly, it's a meditation on isolation, redemption, and family that could, in its basic outline, be satisfyingly told outside of its genre. But then you wouldn't get to see a zombie horde swarming over a remote house in the country. Director Miguel Ángel Vivas and writer Juan de Dios Garduño, who also authored the novel on which the film is based, seek to transcend zombie apocalypse stories by mostly ignoring the zombies, focusing instead on two men, Patrick (Matthew Fox) and Jack (Jeffrey Donovan), whose friendship was sundered during an undead-related incident that left Jack's young daughter Lu (Quinn McColgan) motherless.
The rift is externalized: The two men occupy houses on adjacent, snow-covered lots, both properties surrounded by ten-foot-high chain-link fences. Jack is affectionate with Lu, educating her, cooking canned goods scavenged from abandoned houses, and keeping her from talking to the neighbor. Patrick's nights are occupied with drinking whisky and unfruitfully scanning ham radio frequencies for other survivors. Without human contact, he's gone half-crazy — though he has a cute dog, the last thing you want to see in a zombie movie — his dirty house and mountain-man grooming a stark contrast with Jack's orderly life. A hunter, he's the first to recognize that the zombies have evolved into blind, vicious predators and are expanding their territory. The creatures here seem like real and tactile threats, presumably because the filmmakers didn't have a large enough budget to make the expensive, fake-looking kind. By the time they attack, Vivas has established stakes beyond just survival; the characters are fighting for forgiveness, community, and hope.