Full disclosure here. I’m over zombies.
The slow zombies, the fast zombies, the zombies who climb on each other like ants to scramble over walls, the zombies who flirt and zombies who suffer.
They’re overexposed and out of ideas, not shocking since they are, after all, The Living Dead.
“Brains.” We get it.
Even George A. Romero has seemed bored with them in recent years. Too many zombie movies. They’re all over TV, where “I, Zombie” anchors down the CW. “The Walking Dead” are the best-mannered zombies, pausing to let the uninfected get through their dialogue before resuming their lurching charge in the zombie soap opera.
After “28 Days Later” and “World War Z,” where else can you go with this general idea?
A quick search for a photo from the movie “Pandemic” to illustrate this review lays out the problem. Scores of zombie photos from movies NOT titled “Pandemic” come up. The title’s as generic as the contagion, the epidemic, the green-skinned, stumbling, flesh-eating villains.
Rachel Nichols of TV’s “Continuum” and “Chicago Fire” stars as Laura — DOCTOR Laura — – a CDC (Centers for Disease Control) survivor hurled into the fight against contagion in Los Angeles. A prologue sketches in her back-story — wife and mother, husband and daughter unaccounted for.
Dr. Laura is drafted into a search and rescue mission, riding in a Dept. of Corrections bus with a nurse (Missi Pyle), a cynical ex-con driver (Alfie Allen) and Gunner (Mekhi Phifer). His family is missing and even though the outbreak is mere weeks old, he’s over this and trigger happy.
Dr. Laura is overmatched, out of her depth, unable to cope in her issued bio-hazard suit.
“No wonder New York fell,” Gunner gripes. “Do us all a favor, fight back like your life depended on it.”
Because it does. Over the course of an afternoon and night, the mission team fights and runs through the zombie-infested city, wary of zombie “traps” (uninfected, or under-infected people used as bait) and false hopes. They’re on their own.
“Pandemic” manages one gripping, helmet-camera point-of -iew death. Otherwise, Gunner’s view of their mission prevails. It’s not exactly brimming with humanity.
“Ever play ‘Whack a Mole?'”
The surprises are mild, the shocks are AWOL and the novelty long gone. Serious movies about possible real epidemics are always better, which is why “World War Z” worked. It had big servings of “Outbreak” and “Contagion.”
Civilization’s collapse will be more thorough than this, which is why “28 Days Later” grabbed us.
The reality in “Pandemic” is weakly set up, the surreality underdeveloped and the performances, for the most part, as cold as a corpse.
The film’s most overt impression is that of genre fatigue. The feeble attempts to mask this by not quite having the dead return to life cannot hide the true intent, or the absolute absence of new ideas for the living/walking/lurching/dining dead to carry out.
MPAA Rating: unrated, zombie violence
Cast: Rachel Nichols, Mekhi Phifer, Missi Pyle, Alfie Allen
Credits: Directed by John Suits, script by Dustin T. Benson . A release.
Running time: 1:31