Director – David Morlet
Cast – Hélène de Fougerolles, Francis Renaud, Dida Diafat, Marie-Sohna Conde, Nicolas Briançon, Luz Mandon, Driss Ramdi, Grégory Givernaud, Justine Bruneau de la Salle
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I came across this film thanks Micah’s review on Bloody-Disgusting, and after seeing that this French film would be unlike most of France’s well-known and very gory horror films(Martyrs, Inside, High Tension) I wanted to give this one a watch, and thankfully the opportunity came within a day. Nearly every film has some sort of love element attached to it, although I can honestly say that I have never seen an “infected” film with a love element as strong as this one, and it sets it apart from every other “infected” film I have seen. While this watch was not as great as I wanted it to be, it still delivered a unique taste to the “infected” sub-genre, and delivers some good horror at times as well.
After a virus breaks out in France, the people are turned into bloodthirsty mutants upon infection, leading husband and wife Marco and Sonia on a long voyage to find a safe haven from the infected. Soon enough, Marco is infected with the virus, but Sonia believes that not all is lost. She is immune to the virus, and knows of a secret military based where experiments and cures are being worked on. As Marc slowly succumbs to the agonizing infection, Sonia, pregnant with his child, battles her emotions as she realizes she may never get her husband back, but the man she loves is worth trying to save. With hoards of infected beasts making their way to the couple’s hideout, Sonia’s decisions will determine not only whether her husband survives, but if she and her young child will make it as well.
I enjoyed the film’s unique concept of focusing much on the love/romance element and surrounding it with tension and horror, instead of the other way around. I do not personally prefer these films, but it is nice to see something different in this sub-genre.
The beginning of the film plays off like most other infected films, with the protagonists having to run and find a safe place to hide from the carnage that is boiling around them. Eventually they do find a place to hide out, which I enjoyed because it provided me the opportunity to put myself in their shoes and ask myself where I would hide and how I would fortify walls and such. It may sound a bit silly to you, but I enjoy it and it adds to my film experience. The rest of the watch centers on Sonia and Marc as he becomes more and more infected as the days go on. We see the struggles she faces, and she puts herself in some daring situations to keep him safe despite the fact that he may never become the man he used to be, the man she loves so dearly. I enjoyed this, although I do feel that the dialogue could have been heavily improved to better sell this idea. It worked for the most part, but I never felt engaged by it and never really cared for what happened to Sonia or Marc. This could fall a bit on Helene de Fougerolles’ acting performance as Sonia, but ultimately I believe that had this element been written better it could have fixed this problem.
Director David Morlet does well for his first full-length film, giving us beautiful cinematography accompanied with great landscapes and awesome sets as well. Due to the film’s storyline we really don’t move too very many locations, but Mr. Morlet sells his film either way thanks to some great camerawork and good execution of his infected mutants. The look of the infected was great, especially that of Marc as he slowly succumbs to the infection. We get a decent amount of gore thrown in, although it was pretty weak in most cases and will come as a problem to those of you expecting this to be like Martyrs or Inside. Word of advice: don’t go into this expecting Martyrs or Inside. So how is his execution of the love element? Well, I mentioned earlier that the writing could have been better and would have helped sell what I felt was a mediocre end-product in regards to the love element, but better direction and execution could have helped as well. Sonia was fairly unlikable for a woman that we are obviously supposed to like, and it was not because she was a bitch or someone that pushes your buttons. She was merely unlikable because there was not anything overly special about her. Sure she was pregnant, and had an undying love for her doomed husband, but I was never given anything that sent her over the wall for me, and instead all I was given was a character I was “supposed” to care about, and that is it.
Overall, this is a borderline-positive watch that delivers some cool infected action and a unique storyline thanks to its ever-present love element, but in the end does not fully deliver on either of those elements. I applaud the filmmakers for giving us a unique idea thrown into this infected sub-genre, but in the end the potential was never fully achieved.