When a fast-spreading global pandemic turns ordinary people into flesh-eating monsters, a handful of terrified survivors and the remnants of an army squad find refuge in an elementary school turned emergency shelter.
“28 Days Later” helped to resurrect the zombie genre back in 2002. Granted, it never really went away, zombie movies were still being made but for the most part, they had lost their appeal to mainstream audiences. In 2004, “Shaun of the Dead” came out and that also contributed to people, once more, gaining an interest in the undead with a colossal appetite for human flesh and since then, there have been numerous iterations that pretty much follow the same storyline. A group of people band together and hole up in one location until they are overrun by zombies and must then plan their escape. There’s really nothing new when it comes to zombie movies, what really matters though, is how you present your film and how well your audience connects with the characters onscreen.
Unfortunately, with “Infected,” (original title “The Dead Inside”), we have absolutely no interaction with the people throughout the movie because most of them are incapable of acting. It felt like a group of friends got together and decided they wanted to make their own zombie movie and voila, here it is. The story is like most other films of its ilk, a group of friends band together in a local school to avoid being eaten by zombies that are taking over the world. We are never really told how the outbreak began and quite honestly, I don’t need to know that information, this is a zombie movie, plain and simple, people become infected and if you get bitten, eventually you will turn into one of them too.
The problem with the movie however, is that it steals nearly every other zombie idea out there. This is director Andrew Gilbert’s first film and regrettably, it shows. Mr. Gilbert is so obviously heavily influenced by this particular style, that instead of setting out to make a movie and put his own unique stamp on this genre, rather, he borrows and steals from every other zombie movie imaginable. Instead of the film’s characters being holed up a shopping mall like “Dawn of the Dead,” he substitutes it with a school. They decide on the school because it’s got large fencing surrounding it, just like season three of “The Walking Dead,” which takes place inside a prison and then a group of soldiers appear with bad attitudes, just like “Day of the Dead.”
By all means, borrow ideas from other films and filmmakers, everybody does but don’t make it so blatantly obvious that because you couldn’t write a somewhat original story yourself, that you had to resort to taking other people’s. As an indie filmmaker myself for over 30 years, I realized early on, the importance of having professional actors in your movie. Good acting can overcome a multitude of problems. Go to drama schools and acting classes and inform them of your plan to make a film and believe it or not, people will want to appear in it. As far as they’re concerned, you could be the next Spielberg or Tarantino whose latest movie is going to explode onto the scene. Don’t ever feel beneath asking professional actors, the worst they can do is say no so what have you go to lose?
Having said that, I do give kudos to Mr. Gilbert and his cast and crew. It’s easy to write a movie but actually getting out there and shooting it, takes commitment and dedication and while the finished product, sadly, is not very appealing, I am very curious to see Mr. Gilbert’s future efforts. With a better script and better technical elements, such as camerawork, lighting and sound, I feel that he could become a really great director. I could see the ideas onscreen but he was so infatuated with wanting to make his version of some of the classics that apparently inspired him, that in the process, he forgot to tell his own story. Maybe next time.
Available on Digital Video and DVD June 2nd
For more info about James visit his website at www.IrishFilmCritic.com