By James Lindorf
You may not know his name, but if you were a kid or had one sometime in the last 30 years, you’ll know the voice of Carlos Alazraqui. From Rocko’s Modern Life to The Fairly OddParents to Planes, Carlos has worked nonstop since 1993, and occasionally he likes to be on camera. The filmmaking team Carlos Alazraqui and Jill-Michele Melean, and director Andy Palmer have reunited for the horror-comedy “Witness Infection.” Alazraqui and Melean co-wrote and produced while starring alongside fellow voice actors Tara Strong (“The Powerpuff Girls”) and Maurice LaMarche (“Pinky and the Brain”). The cast is rounded out with the additions of Robert Belushi (“How I Met Your Mother”), Bret Ernst (“Cobra Kai”), Erinn Hayes (“Kevin Can Wait”), Monique Coleman (the High School Musical franchise), and Joseph D. Reitman (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). “Witness Infection” is now available on Digital HD and Cable VOD across North America.
“Witness Infection” is centered around two rival mob families who have been at odds since the old country. When the Witness Protection Program relocates them to the same city by mistake, old tensions come to a head with only one way to bring about peace, a wedding. Carlo Serrelli (Belushi) was lucky enough to avoid the mob business. Instead, he had a job at the family dog groomers, leaving his younger brother, Dominic (Ernst), to do the dirty work. All that is coming to an end as Carlo’s father (Alazraqui) forces him into an arranged marriage with Patricia (Hayes), the rival Miola family boss’s daughter. Resigned to protecting his family, Carlo believes he is losing his freedom and any chance he had with his coworker Gina (Melian). However, when a strange infection begins spreading around town, the good news is Carlo may not have to get married, but the bad news is that everyone might die.
Yes, the humor is juvenile, and the pacing is inconsistent, but I found “Witness Infection” to be charming. From the opening scene with Ben Begley making me think of Ryan Reynolds to a couple of assassins doing their best, Jules and Vincent, there are enough genuinely good moments peppered throughout to keep your attention. While all of the acting isn’t great, and to be fair, some of it isn’t even good, but for a silly B horror movie, it was perfect. The cast is led by Belushi, Alazraqui, and Ernst, who give the most consistent performances. At the same time, Melean was good in the quiet moments, but her performance during the horrific moments was jarring.
Typically in a B horror movie, you expect to get to the action reasonably early on, and for it to last, that isn’t the case here. After an opening kill, it is over 30 minutes before people begin to change and start attacking each other. Even once the changes start, the deaths are few and far between. There is a little too much of their mob movie in my horror movie for my tastes. If the mob part was taken more seriously and the rivals felt like a real threat that could rival the zombies, it would have been more effective. Instead of excluding anger and intimidation, the Miola family has the highest number of fart jokes per minute of screen time since Terrence and Philip started a war in South Park.
There is no denying that “Witness Infection” had a limited budget, and most of its humor could be classified as sophomoric. However, because it isn’t trying to be funny in the same way as “Shaun of the Dead” or as tense as “Night of the Living Dead,” it has its space to find its audience. That was proven when while on the festival circuit, it won awards for Best Feature at HorrorHound and the Die Laughing Film Festival, Best Director at Die Laughing and the Frostbite Film Festival, and the Audience Choice Envy Award at the Sin Film Festival. Thanks to quality jokes, committed performances, and surprisingly good cinematography, “Witness Infection” is one of the best independent horror films in the last few years.
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