The Plague

Imagine waking up one morning, just like any other morning. When you get up, you notice that your child isn’t downstairs watching cartoons like he is every morning. Then you peek into his room, and he’s still asleep. As you approach his bed, you notice he is unresponsive. When you take him to the emergency room, you realize that every child in town is in the same comatose state, and as you overhear the television news in the ER waiting room, in fact every child in the world is in the same comatose state. Thus starts the Clive Barker executive produced horror thriller The Plague. Jump ahead ten years, and the children are still comatose. Drastic measures are being enacted by the government as they begin to ban child birth all together, since all newborns are born in the same state.

Enter Tom Russel (James Van Der Beek). Tom’s been away in prison for much of the ten years that the children have been gone, and now he’s free. Heading home for the first time in ages, he is met with a lot of animosity and fear. Trying to settle back into a normal life as much as possible, he does what odd jobs he can find, and helps his brother with his comatose nephew. As he settles in to the rhythm of life at home, all seems to be slowly returning to normal. Until the children wake up.

The Plague is executive produced by the master of wtf Clive Barker in name only. Regardless, The Plague manages to pull in the sense of creeping dread and sheer out there-ness of Clive Barker to a T. Slow and plodding to start, it might take some effort to get through the first twenty minutes or so as we build characters and back story. That’s the thing about the Plague though. While it may come across as boring at the start, the character development and back story development are enough to suck you into this slow burner, and make you hard pressed to pull away from the couch. As we slog through the beginning of the flick and reach the climax of development, the children waking up, The Plague turns the corner from sleepy street to ‘oh shit!’ in a matter of seconds. Transforming into a zombie staple in a matter of seconds, we move from sleepy to exciting and from here on out, it’s a matter of holding on for the ride.

With many scenes and elements throwing back to the grand daddy of zombie flicks, Night of the Living Dead, The Plague manages the zombie element of the film well enough to pull the viewer in. With a few twists to the common canon of zombiedom, we have single minded drones marching on a small town hell bent on death and destruction. However this time around they are not zombies in the purest sense, they are zombies in action. The children are alive, yet they are not as they were. Never being told exactly what cause this plague, we begin to see the true meaning of horror behind this little flick. Most parents will agree, there is nothing scarier than something happening to your kids. Be it sids, sickness, injury, etc. This time around we see an entire planet whose children have been struck down mysteriously, and left with a shell of a human being to care for over the next ten years. As the parents turn with glee to see their children rise from their inexplicable catatonic state and turn on them in murderous rage? Yah, scares the crap out of me!

The Plague is a sleepy little film that many have not heard of, but it’s worth a watch. As I’ve always been one to scream for originality out of Hollywood, that is exactly what we get in this new twist on the zombie horde. There are some faults however that cannot be looked over entirely. Aside from Dawson in the lead, the rest of the cast comes across a bit wooden and hard to believe in. Even Dawson himself, while trying to be a slightly scruffy ex con, he still comes across as cute and cuddly Dawson. Sort of takes the edge off you know? The biggest fault unfortunately is the ending of the Plague, and it’s a problem that still ‘plagues’ me now. Steeped heavily in religious history and esoteric verses, as Dawson comes up with a solution for their problem and figures out the riddles, he failed to explain them worth a shit to we the viewers. Left with a ringing ‘WTF!!??!?’ the Plague goes from creepy zombie flick to ‘I have no idea what the hell they just did’ in a matter of seconds, and overall, this ruins the experience a bit. After sitting through such a competent creep fest for an hour and a half, one wants an ending they can comprehend. At the same time, I’m still ranting about it to the Mrs. the next morning, so maybe the accomplished what they wanted. Hard to say.

3 crappy endings to an other wise good flick out of 5

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