A group of young people out for a night on the town find more than they bargained for when an infectious outbreak occurs, turning normal people into flesh-hungry, violent monsters. Meeting up with some friends, they barricade themselves into a building where they feel safe, enlisting the aid of some military-types who were also trapped by the epidemic’s quick movement…”
If that plot sounds familiar to you, you’re probably starting to feel the same way I do about the zombie subgenre; as much as we love it (and I’m a sucker for zombie flicks), it seems that the idea is just running out of gas. Sure, we get the occasional flash of brilliance; sometimes there’s a new twist with the characters, locations, or cause of the infection, and it’s just enough to justify adding another title to the long list of the undead apocalypse flicks…but sadly, overall they typically boil down to the basic formula of “something’s making the dead rise; let’s find a place to hole-up, then discover that we all hate each other.”
…Which brings me to today’s entry, a low-budget, first-time film for director Andrew Gilbert, Infected, originally titled Dead Inside.
I’ve already given you a fair synopsis of the plot; the difference here is that it’s British youth that are out and about when the proverbial zombie virus shit hits the fan, and they make their way to their high school, which had earlier been designated as a “evacuation center”.
Of course, they find it deserted, and are quickly joined by a small group of military men, survivors of a unit that had been left behind in the effort to assist civilians in fleeing the scene. This group promptly barricades the school and begins rationing their food, training with weapons, etc. We even have a lovely montage of the group working together, forming relationships, having picnics, etc., that would make either version of Dawn of the Dead proud.
OK, that sounded pretty derogatory; I really don’t mean to imply that this is a bad film; it’s really not, and when you consider the shoestring budget and the fact that this is the first film of a very young filmmaker, it’s all the more impressive. The acting ranges from serviceable up to pretty decent, the effects are minimalist but quite effective, and the camera work is on a par with other films of the subject. Overall, it’s technically a step above a lot of the microbudget “zombie apocalypse” works that have popped up in the last few years.
My issue is one that’s sadly prevalent these days in zombie films: there’s not really anything here we haven’t seen before. Several times.
So, that leaves it to the simple determination if Gilbert and crew at least did a good job paying homage to the subgenre without directly ripping it off; on that note, I’ll sum it up this way:
I’ll use the whisky analogy…the original Romero trilogy is top shelf, 18 year Glen Morangie single malt…Fulci’s zombie works would be your Chivas Regal…films like Survival of the Dead and Zombie Killers would be a nice Johnny Walker Blue Label, and so on…
In my opinion, Infected would fall somewhere on the next shelf; maybe around the 100 Pipers blended. Though it’s not the high-dollar stuff, in the end, if you’ve got a taste for that particular spirit, it’ll get ya just as drunk.
I’d say that if you’re a zombie fan, it’s worth a watch; if you’re a newly-minted, Walking Dead-born fan, without your opinions being cluttered with the background of the classic greats, you’ll find something here definitely worth your time. Though I doubt that it will ever be considered a classic of the subgenre, it’s certainly better than a lot I’ve seen.
That’s my two cents on this one.
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