Saturday, April 16, 2011

Horror Film Review

Mutants (2009):  Oh, my.  That was certainly something.  Right, right...sorry.  Ahem.  Zombie flick!  From France!  What the hell is up with the French lately?  The two best zombie flicks I've seen this year, The Horde and now Mutants, come from the land of Godard and Truffaut.  If you've never seen a movie directed by Jean-Luc Godard or Francois Truffaut, trust me, you're not missing much.  (If my college film professor is reading this...sorry, Roger.)

All right.  Let's get into it.  First of all, some complain that Mutants is a rip-off of 28 Days Later and full of cliches.  Two words:  bite me.  These complaining folks aren't true fans of the genre anyway.  It's a zombie flick.  There never will be anything new under the sun.  Really, what are the options?  The zombies either move fast or they move Romero-slow.  They're zombies because of an infection, radiation, or the dark arts.  Deal with it.  What matters is how the filmmaker makes it his own.  And director David Morlet definitely makes this one his own.

A virus outbreak has already decimated the world by the time we join the action.  The opening sequence with a woman getting chased through the woods is quite exciting.  And ultimately quite gross.  Cut to an ambulance racing through the woods with husband Marco (Francis Renaud) at the wheel and newly-pregnant wife Sonia (Helene de Fougerolles) working on a patient in the back.  Also in the ambulance is a woman from the military decked out like she's a member of a SWAT team.  She forces them to stop so she can put a bullet in the infected patient's head.  She talks of an nearby army base where they'd be safe but refuses to give details.

Later, they stop to search an abandoned building for gas.  Things get out of hand and the military lady shoots Marco in the gut and Sonia shoots the military lady in the face.  Sonia bundles Marco into the ambulance and drives them deeper into the mountains where they stumble upon a massive abandoned building (could be a hospital, could be an asylum).  A white helicopter occasionally passes overhead but never stops.  They write SOS on the roof and start a signal fire, but since this is done during a snowstorm (this silly decision isn't explained), no one sees it.  And although patched up, Marco was infected and thus begins a horrifying transformation while Sonia looks on helplessly.  That's when things really start going to hell.

Sonia is immune to the virus and tries a blood transfusion, which fails spectacularly.  They decide she should give him a lethal injection but instead she dopes him up and locks him in medieval-looking cell in the basement.  That's when a group of sadistic survivors shows up.  Obviously fodder was required for the hungry zombies.  Before the inevitable, though, Sonia is taken to the survivors' underground bunker where she manages to loop a message on powerful radio transceiver.  Sonia's final showdown with a fully transformed Marco (that's him there on the movie poster) is heartbreaking but about what you'd expect.

Two things struck me about Mutants.  One is the focus on the love story aspect and that it really works.  The other is the realistic gore.  I'm not talking about beheadings or disembowelments or anything super nasty.  I'm talking about simple things like pulling out rotting teeth and pissing blood.  And the scene where a buck-naked Marco is chasing Sonia around while totally drenched in blood and screaming like a maniac.  No, you don't see his gentleman sausage.

The Breakdown

Acting:  Restrained in a French sort of way which make the performances all the more believable.  I was surprised by the lack of dialogue, but sometimes less really is more.  The only false note is the girlfriend of the lead sadistic survivor.  She becomes snack food eventually.  That made me feel better. 
Story:  As I said, nothing new under the sun although I enjoyed the unique husband/wife spin.  I didn't think I would, honestly (not a fan of weepy, Terms of Endearment-like crap) but I did.  I also enjoyed the quickness and visciousness of the zombies.
Direction:  This thing clips along so smoothly that I was barely aware time was passing.  Morlet has a knack for grabbing and holding your attention.
Production ValuesMutants is shot on quality film stock (thank God) and makes good use of location shooting.  The forested mountains, blanketed in virgin snow are gorgeous.  In stark contrast, the abandoned hospital/asylum is a dilapidated lump of white concrete and glass.  Best of all, the film doesn't feel cheap.  You know exactly what I mean, don't you?
Gore/FX:  Now here's where the movie really shines.  The zombie make-up is some of the best I've ever seen.  Instead of overshadowing the story, the gore complements it.  The filmmakers struck the perfect balance.
The Ending:  Not exactly full of sunshine and roses, but also not stupidly nihlistic like some horror flicks.
The Verdict:  Should you see Mutants?  Absolument.  There's lots of good stuff here for horror fans of all types. I love french toast and french fries.  Who'd have thought I'd love French horror, too?  (I almost did a "viva la France" thing there but stopped myself in time.)

My Rating4 out of 5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment