“Pandemic”: the lackluster zombie apocalypse film


With the future of a bleak America being sensationalized in seemingly tons of apocalypse genre in books and movie, the new movie release of “Pandemic” joins the list with less than stellar results. The viewer is immediately dropped into a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles that has become overrun by people-hungry zombies as a result of a deadly virus sweeping through humanity on a global scale. The movie was originally an unused script entitled “Viral”, when it was discovered at the Blood List (a repository of abandoned scripts) by movie producer and director John Suits.
Rachel Nichols stars as protagonist Doctor Lauren Chase, a woman living in a safe zone set up by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and is assigned to a small team dedicated to finding uninfected survivors hiding in fear throughout the city. While her personal quest to find her missing husband and teenage daughter are admirable, Lauren is a dry and uncompelling character; her teammates are equally uncompelling. The navigator, Denise, is a sympathetic character, but sympathy is all the audience feels for her. The other supporting characters such as the ex-con who drives the bus named Wheeler (Alfie Allen), and the leader of the group, a bitter ex-cop, called Gunner (Mekhi Phifer) are just as bland and uninteresting. Characters with no support from an audience are the weakest type of characters created by a writer and director.
The zombies, while unoriginal in how a person is transformed, are convincingly frightening. They move at an accelerated speed and cause mayhem for the characters. This movie is certainly a thriller with jump-scares and creepy moments of suspense. The people who are still alive are the most terrifying, however, as those willing to do anything for safety and refuge are vicious, cruel, and unrelenting.
The one feature that makes this film unique is the first-person view in which it is shot. Producer/Director John Suits stated that, “Rather than a found footage movie, I consider it more as a POV first-person movie.” This method has been used before for decades now with varying degrees of success. “Pandemic” struggled to maintain continuity as it changed the point of view of the characters constantly, and left the audience confused as to from whose eyes they were viewing the scene. And while fight scenes were more harrowing in first person, it was only because the disorientation and poor vision left the audience wondering what they were seeing rather than enjoying that they were seeing it, as the “shaky cam” could give anyone a headache.
While “Pandemic” had its moments, it’s not a move to recommend to zombie or post-apocalypse genre fans. This movie feels more like a cheesy video game with no character development than a movie meant to dominate the big screen. I give it a 6 out of 10.