One from the to watch pile…
Film: I love it when a film that you have no prior knowledge of makes an impression. I don’t even know why I bought this. I was in JB Hifi looking to get rid of the money burning a hole in my pocket, and I liked the cover of this, and the back made it sound OK too.
In general I like body horror films, the work of David Cronenberg being of a particular high point, for me Shivers or Rabid being my favourites, and this film has trappings of his films, but with a more accessible story to appeal to a greater mass market. Imagine if Cronenberg directed a John Hughes movie in a post-mainstream zombie movie world!
Emma (Sofia Black-D’Elia), her sister Stacy (Analeigh Tipton) and their father (Michael Kelly… who is used to virus infected people after his jaunt in the Dawn of the Dead remake) have moved to a new small town after a traumatic family event, which temporarily is keeping their mother away. The girls are typical teenagers, and their father has taken a position as a science teacher at a local high school… but something awful is happening… a horrible new parasite has emerged: first a hunger, then a sore throat, the fitting, then the vomiting of blood…
As their parents are stuck out of the now quarantined town, Emma and Stacy have to fend for themselves, and defend themselves from those whose bodies are now possessed by these creatures… but what would happen if one of THEM became infected?
The first thing I have to say about this film is how beautifully shot it is. The film is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, responsible for directing both Paranormal Activity 2 and 3, but don’t let that turn you off. This film was written by the writer of those two films as well, Christopher Landon, who also gave us Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, a film I enjoyed, and adapted to a screenplay by Barbara Marshall.
There a some scenes that are just shot almost as a travelogue, or as if a static piece of art was being created. The scenery possibly has a lot to do with that as well as this town the film is set in seems to have mountains all around it and it’s just breathtaking.
The script is witty, with an amusing jibe about zombies aimed at Michael Kelly’s science teacher, and the female lead is delightfully refreshing in her realistic practicality, and her quiet, non-Hollywood beauty. If I am to criticise the script at all, it is to the characters that surround her: her sister is TOO much of a rebel, her sister’s boyfriends is TOO much of an idiot and of course, parents are amped up to be obnoxious jerks, but the movie is told from the point-of-view of a teen/ younger sister so that’s expected. At least in her eyes, the father is seen as a wholly good person and when she finds out that even he is flawed, the way she sees the world changes.
It really is a great take on the body horror sub-genre, with just a little zombie thrown, in (not enough for it to be classed as a ‘zombie’ film, but just enough to point it out) and it’s young cast make it a pretty cool entry level, Z for Zachariah styled horror film. See it!
Format: This region B, Australian release bluray of Viral runs for just over 85 minutes and is presented in an immaculate 2.40:1 image with a matching DTS HD 5.1 audio. This image is so sharp that it reveals every single hair, zit and pock mark on the actor’s faces.
Extras: Not a sausage! Nothing!
WISIA: Thoroughly enjoyed this film so yes, definitely will get watched again.