Cast: Andrew Hunsicker, Amanda K. Morales, Shelley Brietling, Mike Sutton
Written by: Stephen Michael Giglio, Adam Romanchik
Directed by: Stephen Michael Giglio
Running Time: 1h 11m
Reviewed by: Philip Wade
A deadly pathogen is unleashed and unknowingly carried to Dana’s 30th birthday party, where her estranged father, Rufus, is coming to make amends. What begins as a family drama soon escalates to a horrific turning point as the epidemic spreads and Rufus fights to save his daughter’s life.
The human dynamic between characters was the better part of this movie, although it was hit or miss. When characters interacted directly with each other, for instance the drama playing out between Dana (Amanda K. Morales) and her father Rufus (Andrew Hunsicker), what played out felt natural and real and god help me almost compelling. When the actors were expositing history or explaining things, these scenes felt wooden and forced.
I think had they taken out the contrivance of the virus, they could have easily pasted in some other complication driving father and daughter together, for instance the death of the old family dog, the sale of mom’s car, or them accidently bumping into each other at Disneyland -the story of the estrangement and possible reconciliation of father and daughter was the story and anything was else pure plot device.
The virus drives the plot forward, but little is shown of it other than it causes gruesome vomit, hallucinations and deformity. There is some promise of terror -such a virus getting out on a large scale would be a tragedy worth exploring, except we explore a father trying to cope with and save his dying daughter. Which amounts to him throwing her in a car and taking her to a motel where he drinks and comforts her while she lays in bed.
The passivity of Rufus at this point is boring, his daughter is dying and the most he does is stare at his phone, drink and get himself an adjacent motel room. He gives his daughter some pills, but most of the time he just seems to sit around. Therefore, the horror of the “Epidemic” is lost, really. There is some personal horror, but it feels weak and contrived and not the least big compelling. Which leaves this both a weak horror or family drama.
The makeup and visual effects with the ghouls were adequate, however their purpose for being in the film was a little lost on me. Maybe it’s a mainstay of this genre or subgenre to just have random ghouls for impact. They didn’t drive the plot along so they would not be missed if they were absent. Which is a shame because most of the makeup was effective without being too cheesy.
I really wish this movie was a horror movie or I wish this was a family drama. Because it was kind of one thing and a little bit of the other, I am very lukewarm on this. I didn’t dislike this movie, but at the same time I didn’t really like it either.