Its one year since the world witnessed a zombie apocalypse. Following the initial hullabaloo - humans shooting the undead; the ghouls attacking the living in retaliation - it was discovered that zombies are actually peaceful by nature. All they really want to do is lumber about and occasionally eat some oats. They only become agitated if one of their own is harmed.
In this world presides Clay (David Chandler). He's desperate for his sister Mia (Eva Boehnke) to move on from her former boyfriend, and to this end plans to hitch his best pal Todd (Maxwell Moody) with her. Trouble is, Mia still pays daily visits to the fenced-off area in which her zombified former beau has been partitioned for months along with the rest of the recently "deceased".
Yes indeed, despite Clay's insistence and Todd's uncool efforts at wooing her, Mia's head is not for turning. Unless ... unless Clay can survive the monotony of his day job and drive past the stumbling zombies who make his daily commute such a chore, and put the ex-boyfriend to permanent sleep with a bullet to the brain.
Of course, there's a minor flaw in this plan. Remember? The undead will attack the living en masse if one of their own is killed...
What's interesting about this well-shot, micro-budgeted American film is how it manages to retain an identity of its own while recalling so many other zombie films of new and old. Clay's daily grind brings to mind SHAUN OF THE DEAD; the idea of the docile dead and the living being able to make visits to dead loved ones can be found in THEY CAME BACK; the black-and-white photography of early scenes definitely alludes to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD; the world that Clay and Todd populate indubitably tips a nod to TV's "The Walking Dead". And so on.
What keeps A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT from being simply derivative are its savvy screenplay, which starts off with subtle humour (the 'dead awareness' session that Clay is obliged to attend is a nice touch) before moving into decidedly darker territory, and the performances - which are generally above average. Oh, and Tylar Carver's practical effects work is highly impressive too, especially when you consider that the film's overall budget was reportedly around $1,400.00. His blind zombie creation, Bacon Face, is a particular triumph.
Our co-filmmakers also provide the film with an ambient, hauntingly effective score.
The pace is a tad inconsistent for such a short (77-minute) film. The less about the CGI employed sparingly throughout, the better. And the denouement doesn't really make good on Benjamin Roberd's ambitious screenplay. But he and co-director Jordan Reyes should be applauded for being able to fashion such a handsome, distinctive and engaging zombie film from virtually no resources.
They've clearly got potential and I'll be watching these two with interest from now on.
Wild Eye Releasing's region-free DVD presents A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT uncensored and in its original 16x9 ratio.
Although clearly shot on digital video for peanuts, the picture is a relatively strong one. Colours are bold, images are sharp without too much edginess, and noise is kept to a minimum. Fair enough, darker scenes do occasionally have a washed-out feel to them and some daytime exterior shots do suffer from a bleached appearance. But by-and-large this is a reliable presentation. The film looks its best during its early monochrome sequences.
English 2.0 audio is generally good throughout.
The disc opens to a static main menu page. There is no scene selection option, but the film is graced with 9 remote control-navigational chapters.
Bonus features relating the film are restricted to two trailers - a 91-second "domestic" preview, and the completely different 92-second "international" one.
We're also treated to a plethora of trailers for other titles in the Wild Eye Releasing roster. These include BLOOD SOAKED, JONAH LIVES, A ZOMBIE EXORCISM, FRANKENSTEIN'S HUNGRY DEAD, EBOLA ZOMBIES, DISCO EXORCIST and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RE-ANIMATED.
A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT attempts a different spin on the zombie genre and, despite some shortcomings that are not unsurprising given its rock-bottom budget, it succeeds for the most part. Stick around for the end credits too - how many films can boast a "black magic supervisor" and a "bounty hunter" among their crew?!
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Wild Eye Releasing|
|see main review|