Director – Jim Hinkle
Cast – Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Ron Brice, Bo Corre, Tim House, Larry Fleischman, Larry Medich, Javier Picayo, Antone Pagan, John Hoyt
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film I initial saw back in 2006 when it debuted, and despite what seemed like silly elements in the plot I found this to be a fairly positive film. It is rare that we get an “infected” film with original elements, and this low-budget/Indie film gets things right on many levels despite suffering some less-than-favorable ideas here and there.
Mulberry Street follows a group of low-income tenants residing in a rundown apartment complex in the slums of New York. All is well in the neighborhood until the usual sewer rats they come across become overly aggressive and bite them at will. While this does not alarm anyone at first, things become awry when those bitten by the rats begin to suffer symptoms not typical of rat bites. The bitten soon experience physical changes very similar to the look of a rat, then acquire an insatiable taste for raw flesh, which leads them to the closest source of raw flesh there is…other humans. Soon enough an outbreak ensues, and whiles the world outside of the apartment complex is ravaged by the crazed lunatics, the small number of tenants must now fight off infected friends and even family members if they wish to survive this hellish ordeal.
I know what you are thinking, “Rats?!?”, “RATS?!?”. Yes my horror brethren…rats. We have been given rats before in horror films, such as Willard, but never have I seen a horror film where people are not only bitten by rats, but in fact pretty much turn into rats themselves…of course with a taste for human flesh. It sounds silly, and in fact it is a little silly, but nonetheless it works in this film.
The story is a simple one, but it moves at a fast and absorbing pace, which keeps things interesting. We get numerous scenes that allow for director Jim Mickle to bring on some good tension, which I must commend Mickle and co-screenwriter Nick Damici for setting up via the writing process. What really sold this film to me aside from the obvious rat-infected killers was the usage of the many characters we get in this film. We really get no useless characters, which is surprising with a film that comes with many characters. Numerous times I have seen a film that brings many characters but near half of them are obviously thrown into the film simply to amuse the viewer, not to give anything towards what is going on. Well that is not the case with this film, and each of the characters come with their own colorful or unique personality which gives the viewer the feeling of rooting for the protagonists as they try to survive the chaos going on around them. The bond and rapport between these tenants is great to watch, and in fact this is something I saw as somewhat of a surprise. Usually with these “infected” films we get a lot of social breakdown involving the protagonists in an attempt to create conflict, but instead our protagonists get along quite well and band together to survive instead of trying to kill each other. This did not hurt the amount of conflict in the film at all, as it is those outside of the complex that show the true depravity of human life, both infected and non-infected. I really enjoyed this, and it comes as a result of good writing.
Direction-wise I was very impressed with the unique and captivating camerawork from Jim Mickle. At first the film nearly comes off as a film student’s art-house film with such great visuals, but the terror and chaos are made known to us early on thanks to some excellent direction and execution when it mattered most. The tension is high once things get going, and Mickle does a fine job bringing the chaos to screen. He expertly choreographs the carnage brought on by the infected, which came off very 28 Days Later-ish but with more death and more gore. To make matters even cooler, we get a sweet musical score that I would have never expected to hear in a horror film, but a score that aided this in being a pretty fun watch in the end. My only complaints with this film have to do with Mickle’s direction, and they may just be more my opinion than anything else. I personally did not like some of the camera-use on some scenes, namely the slow-motion scenes towards the end. This will most likely be a hit-miss concept, with some disliking it(like me) and others enjoying it.
Overall, this is a mostly positive watch that I will recommend to those who would like to see something different in the “infected” genre. This film does come with its flaws, but good tension and great execution make up for most of them.