Normally a review about a really good zombie film would start with something about it taking a different approach like Colin (seen from the zombie’s point of view), ”Warm Bodies” (where love can literally bring the dead back to life) and ”Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead” (where zombies can be used as fuel, just one of the film’s many batshit-crazy ideas).
”Infected” doesn’t have any such new angles or ideas about zombiedom, but it’s proof that even a genre entry that sticks to the classic mythology can – if done well – be a good movie.
Much like ”Dawn of the Dead”, ”Infected” shows us the lives of a group of people whom fate throws together and then lets us watch as the end draws closer, seeing who stands firm, caves in, etc.
It’s the modern day in Bedford, UK, and the lads are gunning for a night out clubbing and having fun. It just so happens it’s the night the zombie apocalypse descends and sweeps across the UK like a wave, with the boys attacked by a thug at the club, hissing and biting and killing two of them hideously.
Two of the lads and a girl from their social circle who isn’t particularly welcome get away and hole up at home, watching the TV for any news and waiting to see what happens.
At the same time, a group of soldiers have been manning their post, but the chain of command has gone dark and there doesn’t seem any point in what they’re doing, so they take a car and try and find safety.
Through the kind of split second and desperate decision-making that gives the zombie genre its unique sense of urgency, everyone ends up at a local school. They do their best to barricade themselves in, take stock of what little rations they have and survive until help comes – if it ever does.
There’s a very free-wheeling, documentary-like feel to ”Infected” (released in some parts of the world as ”The Dead Inside”), particularly in the early scenes where it could be a film about the degeneration of Britain’s youth like Kidults, the boys all sweary skylarking and faux–masculinity that comes with male bonding and alcohol.
The advantage of a low-fi zombie movie like this is that the storyteller can make things as unpredictable as he likes, and with no big stars contracted to survive to the end and be the hero, director and co-writer Andrew Gilbert has a great time shocking us with sudden character deaths we never see coming and a constant process of wrong-footing us about who’s going to survive.
It’s acted more with earnestness than professionalism, although the realistic tone suits the performances and dialogue perfectly. The characters also creep up on you and you find yourself surprised by how emotional – even a bit heartbreaking – it is at times.
What it also has that all too few zombie flicks have had recently (World War Z, et al), is that the zombies are genuinely scary monsters. They run (Snyder style) rather than shuffle (Romero style) and when they catch you, they eat you. It seems we haven’t seen genuinely upsetting scenes of people screaming in pain as they’re disembowelled and eaten alive since ”Dawn” way back in 1978.
There’s nothing new here, but there’s plenty that makes the genre great and will make you squirm and jump as well.