Cinematic Releases: Pandemic

Check out our early review of Pandemic, out in theaters on April 1st and on demand on the 5th. 

Everyone get on the bus!!!!
Zombie mania continues to sweep the nation, and it shows no signs of slowing down.  The Walking Dead remains one of the most popular shows on all of television, and new zombie movies and video games keep coming down the pipe on a seemingly weekly basis.  With such a wealth of options out there, even hardcore zombie fans must find their options getting a little stale.  It’s no longer enough to just have a deadly disease turn the living into the undead, you're gonna need something more to capture the audience's interest.  The new film Pandemic takes a tried-and-true zombie story and puts a unique spin on it, with mostly successful results.

Pandemic's story is that of a young doctor named Lauren (Rachel Nichols) leading a team into Los Angeles to seek out and rescue any remaining clusters of non-infected survivors.   When things start to get ugly (as they are wont to do in these movies), Lauren finds herself forced to balance her own personal agenda for the good of accomplishing her mission.  The conflict is real and engaging, and it adds tension to situations that might have otherwise been a bit routine and even slow.  The film as a whole is well-written and well-acted, and Nichols has a great cast backing her up (Mekhi Phifer, Missy Pyle, Game of Thrones' Alfie Allen, CSI's Paul Guilfoyle), raising Pandemic a bit above your average indie zombie flick.

Where in the hell is Eminem when you
need some positive rap reinforcement?
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Pandemic is the way it was filmed.  Pandemic is shot in first person, from the point of view of cameras on the team's helmets and the occasional CCTV camera.  This results in a video-game-like experience, which definitely enhances the creepiness and the tension, and adds a clever new wrinkle to slightly overdone "found footage" genre.  It would have been interesting to see the film from a consistent single character's point of view (like the upcoming Hardcore Harry), but as it is it makes Pandemic fresh, exciting and unique.

Unfortunately, all of these quality ingredients do little to get around the fact that Pandemic is, at its core, just another zombie movie.  Granted, it's one of the better zombie movies of recent years, well-made top to bottom given its likely small budget and limitations.  Bells and whistles aside, don't expect anything more that what you may have already seen.   But if you love a good zombie flick, and you can forgive one that falls back maybe a bit too often on the genre's conventions, then this is a Pandemic worth catching.

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-Mike Stec