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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 04.04.16] post apocalyptic horror action thriller

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When Hardcore Henry opens this weekend you're going to hear a lot of people talking about its gonzo use of first-person POV. People are going to claim it's the first feature film out of the gate to use the technique and that will be arguably true, but, as Quiet Earth readers, at least you'll also know the truth; that another little film came out a skootch earlier. That film is Pandemic, which hit select theaters last Friday and comes out on VOD tomorrow, April 5, 2016, and offers a *mostly* first-person journey into the zombie apocalypse.

The reason I say *mostly* is because Pandemic uses a multi-character helmet-cam approach (as well as the odd piece of surveillance footage) to stitch together its narrative, which, smartly, allows the filmmakers to edit back and forth between characters in order to present something like a traditional film. This is then punctuated by moments of full on, gamer-style POV action when the film explodes into its violent set-pieces. It is an effective technique that goes a long way to enhance what would otherwise be an above par episode of The Walking Dead.

Let me be clear that, in saying this, I'm not trying to be shitty about Pandemic's story, actors or direction. Rather, it's just the reality that, in a world overrun by zombies, it's become harder and harder for filmmakers (particularly those working with indie budgets) to offer something in a feature that we're not seeing week-to-week on television. So luckily, director John Suits' first-person approach is here to ratchet up the tension in some key scenes of horror and get the adrenaline pumping during the big moments.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

The set-up here is simple: a virus has turned most of the population into what are effectively zombies (though the word is never spoken). A young doctor, played by model-turned-actress Rachel Nichols (Conan: The Barbarian), is recruited to journey into L.A. as part of a search and rescue mission to find survivors in the hopes of administering a cure. She's joined by a small team of more seasoned vets, each with their own history and agenda. Game of Thrones' Alfie Allen is the driver, an ex-con with an attitude. Mekhi Phifer (Dawn of the Dead) is the surly marine, while Gone Girl's Missi Pyle adds some humanity to the group.

In terms of big or intense zombie moments, there are many. There's an impressive sequence right out of the gate, as, quite literally, the gates to LA are opened to a flood of infected pour out and into the survivor's compound. A bloody, battle to get the bus through to the city ensues and sets the tone for the journey to come.

Here's that scene:

Thankfully, there are also a number of more tense moments as we travel slowly through dark, confined corridors or find ourselves alone with a character as they're stalked by monsters. One scene in particular stands, where a decayed infected stalks a character while we watch in night-vision. While obviously inspired by the original [REC], it's no less effective.

Even though seasoned zombie fans won't be surprised by Pandemic's story, I found the film to be an effective spin on the found footage genre where the POV technique is put to good use in creating both punchy action and moments of tension.

XLrator Media released Pandemic in theaters on April 1, and on VOD and iTunes on April 5. Pandemic opened in limited release on April 1, and hits home formats, VOD and iTunes on April 5, 2016.

Here's the trailer:

Recommended Release: Pandemic

Follow Christopher Webster on Twitter.

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