Review by Tom Swift
Lost in a zombie friendly world, a nerd murders a zombie — so his sister can date again.
A Plague So Pleasant is as undone by its title — as its hero is undone by his act of love. Generally speaking, there is nothing particularly “pleasant” about zombie films. You watch for the gore; you watch for the shards of humanity that speak out from the darkness of the blood and the open sores.
So the title implies that irony stalks this mid-American landscape as well. Here, the zombie apocalypse ended some time ago when the humans discovered that attacking the zombies made them attack humans. Roughly, two billion humans are now undead, and a natural death apparently makes you a zombie as well. Total zombie earth is only a matter of time here, so why not join the fun? Well, there’d be no movie if it were all that straight forward.
And as long as you don’t shoot one of the zombies in the head, they will just roam the streets and the stockades set up for them. Laws have been made to protect them like some endangered species. Well, that’s ironic, isn’t it?– when the humans are generally the endangered species in these films.
And, this being one of those movies that doesn’t talk much, you’re left to your own various interpretations of what all this means. The film’s silence just begs for you to put your own two cents in. And, yes, indeed, the humans here are the creepy ones.
Clay, our hero, works in a nerd cubicle with humans that act brain dead already. Clay’s roommate opens the film, and he just seems like a creep in some kind of “flasher” overcoat. He wants to date Clay’s sister. But she’s still in love with her ex-boyfriend — who’s locked up in the zombie stockade. Clay knows she needs a fresh start, but with this guy? You can’t help thinking she’d be better off with the zombie.
No fan of zombie films, I was on the edge of my seat with this one. I can appreciate irony – though the concept of this film reeks just a bit of too many genre obsessed nights’ in film school. But what’s really great is how this film looks and feels. Switching over from black and white to color at an appropriately ironic moment, A Plague So Pleasant gets inside your head. Cinematographer Jordan Reyes is a pro.
Hitchcock, that master of irony, would have gotten this film during his Psycho period. He would have also had the money to hire a more expensive, lead actor. Shot apparently for $3000, the film needs someone to carry on a silent interior monologue, and you don’t get that from David Chandler as Clay Marshall. The character has no doubt an ironic last name – since he is the breaker of the law.
Less irony and more terror would have made this about more than a bullet in the head. In stores August 25.