Monday, November 20, 2023

I Guess You Have to Start Somewhere


Some perfectly fine actors just can't seem to find roles in good movies. As Margaery Tyrell, Natalie Dormer took a minor character in one of television's largest casts and turned her into someone worthy of her own show. And yet, post-Game of Thrones, the poor woman seems to only star in terrible movie after terrible movie.

Coincidentally, here's today's Peacock find.

Quick Plot: Basically, 28 Days Later has happened, and now we're about two years in (104 Weeks?). Not quite angry monkeys, but canine rabies is the cause here. Much like those angry monkeys, these bites transform the infected into highly fit rage monsters.

Somewhere underground, obnoxious military soldiers and a handful of not-too-bright scientists are working hard to understand the virus (and believably communicate in American accents). The real hope lies in Morgan (Matt Smith), a low level officer who seems to have immunity to the pandemic. Not only did he not turn after being bitten, but he can also understand and communicate with the sick. Dr. Gina Rose (Dormer) and Scooter (John Bradley, who played the similarly silly named Samwell Tarly on Game of Thrones) are hopeful that by capturing and interrogating some infected, Morgan can help them solve the cause (and therefore cure) via the titular Patient Zero.

Could that be The Professor, a cocky rage zombie played by, hold your martini, Stanley Tucci?

All of this probably sounds fine, especially to a horror fan. Patient Zero isn't terribly unlike a slicker Day of the Dead: single spirited female staving off chauvinism, alpha male army jerks, kind but useless supporting men, zombie-ish creature that talks and likes music, you get the drift. 

What's missing? Well, a few things. The actors -- predominantly British -- all seem to be straining awfully hard to play Americans, begging the question "why not let them be British?" Matt Smith is obviously a charismatic and accomplished performer, but he's woefully miscast as the tough guy everyman with what might be an east coast accent? Our scientists seem like idiots, our survivors lack personality, leaving us all thinking the best case scenario for this reality is to let Stanley Tucci take over.

Without spoiling anything, Patient Zero ends on a weirdly open-ended note, as if this was all a setup for a new franchise the public was itching to see. "We must continue to fight!" our heroes stiffly narrate, as if this film has shown a single reason why humanity is worth saving. 

High Points
When we finally do get to the inevitable (not-but-totally) zombie invasion of the complex, director Stefan Ruzowitzky kicks into some quite good action horror

Low Points
Of course, seeing that highlight makes you realize how much this film missed its calling in not focusing on those kinds of sequences, rather than the far less compelling, far more labored human conversations

Lessons Learned
A viral apocalypse is no reason to let your hair lose its bounce

A lesser known side effect of canine rabies is that it increases your level of enjoyment of gossiping

The longer the lockdown, the messier the American accent

Patient Zero isn't a total wash, but it's an incredibly bumpy ride without a huge reward. Infected zombie completists have certainly seen worse. 

No comments:

Post a Comment