WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.
For my thoughts on this movie, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com
: 90% critics, 81% audience
3.5/5 (or 1.5/5...)
We watched on Amazon, which cost real live money!
An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.”
For the first time this month, we took the plunge by spending money on a movie. We watched it on a cold, rainy night, and got interrupted by a flurry of phone calls and barking dogs, which kind of killed the flow.
Mikey: A foreign film! How do you feel about that? Obviously this one was dubbed (which we know is a bad thing! Yuck), but what about subtitled ones?
I like to watch TV while doing something else - knitting, sewing, reading, playing iPhone games - and foreign language films really mess with that. If we set that aside, I am usually intrigued by foreign films in a hesitant way. I blame watching “Burnt by the Sun”, a Russian film that won an academy award in 1995, as an impressionable teenager. American films tend to over-explain everything, wrap up all the loose ends, and give you at least a glimmer of hope to grab onto. Most of the foreign films I’ve seen have been obtuse and intensely depressing. These are not bad things… they just require more effort on my part to watch, so I tend to put off watching them. I am just another lazy American! However, when I do end up watching foreign films I am typically more captivated and more moved than I am with American films.
Mikey: The dubbing was bad, let’s just agree on that because c’mon. How did that impact the experience?
Oh, it was AWFUL. I wish I could have watched it with just subtitles. The voice-over actors were SO bad and I am concerned that some of the characters came off even more awful than they really were because of the way their lines were translated. I am really not sure if this was a racist movie with racist screenwriter and director or if it was social commentary turned racist through racist dubbing decisions. It definitely lowered my opinion of the movie.
Mikey: But it’s another fine found footage movie! I love em! How did you feel about the verisimilitude here? Was it “real”?
[For readers who, like myself, are unsure of the meaning of verisimilitude, it means the appearance of truth, likelihood
] I’m taking this to mean that you’re asking how realistic or believable the plot was to me. In a strictly scientific, present tense sense, not at all. Zombies are not a thing. I may joke about having a zombie apocalypse plan, but it’s all a joke. In a storytelling sense, I was able to suspend reality enough to accept the premise. I thought the idea of investigative reporting stumbling on something more than they expected more believable than the typical “young adults record every second of their lives” idea most found footage films rely on.
Mikey: You’ve asked me, so I want to ask you: how do you feel about the found footage genre?
On one hand, I tend to like them because they are a great place to find that pan-across-the-scene-until-something-pops-out-at-you moment that I like (see interview about Paranormal Activity). On the other hand, they are usually super cheesy. There’s a lot of storytelling gymnastics that has to happen to get every part of a story recorded by a character in the story. That is often not done well. Example: you are one of two survivors in a building filled with zombies and you’re STILL hauling a giant camera around with you as though recording for posterity is more important than saving your own posterior. Nope. I don’t believe it. Although I will say it was clever that they made the camera the only way for her to see where she was going at the end. It actually made sense for her to still have the camera pointed at the monster at that point.
Mikey: What we have here is unquestionably a gorefest. I know that’s not up your alley. What’s your official stance on gore, as we’ve already heard you’re okay with it in pursuit of a psychological theme?
I will literally close my eyes, cover my ears and hum so that I don’t have to see or hear really epic gory stuff. I am much more grossed out by sounds than sights, and this movie had tons of cracking bones, crunching skulls and other icky sounds. It’s not that it makes me feel sick, it's that I feel something akin to pain. My nervous system gets all sympathetic and over-reactive. I have the same problem at the dentist. I KNOW I don’t feel anything, but if I hear the drill, I get just as tense as if I’m feeling the pain.
Mikey: For me, gore is something of a non-factor. If it does bother me, it’s just gross or something I don’t want to see, it’s not “scary” in any sense. It doesn’t really elicit an emotional reaction in me other than disgust. So I want to get somebody else’s perspective, and I have you at gunpoint right now, so I will ask you: does gore work to make things more scary? Is a horror movie accomplishing something when they show gore? Am I missing part of the experience here, or is disgust the only goal?
I don’t feel scared by gore. I feel turned off by it. It makes me unwilling to watch. I think if a movie has forced someone to turn away from the screen it has failed in its attempt to scare them. In fact, I think if they had violence off-screen, so I had to cover my ears, but I were captivated to the point where I didn’t actually look away, I’d be more scared. I find old Hitchcock films and old episodes of the Twilight Zone much scarier than modern horror films and they almost never had any on-screen violence or gore.
Mikey: It's half-time! Do you feel like you understand what’s happening at this point? Do you feel like you know where the movie is going? If so, how confident are you in your predictions?
This is clearly a zombie movie at this point (something I did not know at the beginning). I know there’s an old lady and a young lady running around upstairs zombified. I know the cop and the firefighter are going to come up zombie any minute. Clearly, the little girl has caught the virus as well, probably from her dog who is the reason this whole quarantine happened. The way mom is carrying her around with her face right up by her neck makes me very nervous. As for what’s coming… things are going to get out of hand very quickly. They always do with zombies. (Why is it that nobody in a zombie movie has ever seen a zombie movie??) I suspect that only one person will make it out alive and it’s very possible that they will bring the virus out with them. I’m very confident. I’m less confident about who that someone will be. I’m predicting either the journalist or the bad-ass firefighter.
Mikey: This movie is very short at an hour and 18 minutes. Did that work in its favor or against it?
I think it was good for it to be short. I was ready to be done with that movie by the time it ended. Although, perhaps with another 30 minutes they could have explained what they were trying to do with all that attic nonsense.
Mikey: What’s up with gramps? How did they manage to not encounter the oft-mentioned sick grandpa who was said to be lurking upstairs? Or did I miss it?
If you missed it, so did I. I kept waiting for an old Korean man to either attack someone or wave them into his apartment filled with ancient cures for zombies. Instead, he just never appeared.
Mikey: At the end, this movie makes a turn: it’s a zombie movie, and suddenly it’s a possession movie. That’s a pretty big twist. Did that all make sense to you? Can you explain it to me?
Nope. I have no idea what was going on there. It sounded like scientists made the zombification happen… but I don’t know what they were trying to do when it happened. I have no idea how the zombie girl from all the newspaper articles got from Rome to Barcelona. And where the hell was the scientist? Zombified, I’d assume, but obviously not in that apartment…
Mikey: After watching the movie, how right or wrong were you about your predictions?
I was right about all hell breaking loose. I was wrong about anyone surviving or escaping the quarantine. Although, maybe the Korean grandpa made it out?
Mikey: I'm sure he did, he's safe and sound with Claire from The Invitation. Were you scared at any point?
YES! This was the first movie we’ve watched this season that truly scared me. I was 110% sure the camera guy was going to see a scary face as he panned around up at the top of the attic ladder. I knew it was coming, but it still scared the crap out of me. That was the best part of the whole movie.
The night vision parts could have been scary except that they didn’t feel at all realistic to me. I thought the Patient Zero zombie was pretty creepy looking… but then she didn’t seem to act or react with any consistent motivation. Why was she rummaging through drawers and papers? And why couldn’t she see them if she could see well enough to be looking for something on the table?
Mikey: You have three areas to consider in this movie: Writing, Directing (including editing, music and cinematography), and Acting. Which was good, which was bad, and which was ugly? It’s okay if you want to re-use good/bad/ugly.
Writing - Good/Bad
Directing - Good
Acting - who knows? The voice over-acting was atrocious.
I am not sure how to rate the writing, as I’m convinced that the original was very different from what we got. I didn’t like the characters, I found them very static and generic. There really wasn’t much growth from the beginning to the end. In fact, at about halfway through I made the following note to myself: “These are really horrible people. I’m not sure I’ll be sorry to lose any but the firefighters.” On the other hand, there was an effort to make things different at the end… I just can’t tell if it was a failed attempt or a successful attempt that I completely failed to understand. Maybe there’s a cultural barrier at play?
I really wish we’d seen it in the original Spanish with subtitles.
Mikey: You have no control over the entire movie… except the very ending. What would you change about the climax to make it better? What’d they do wrong?
There was no need, in my opinion, to get all religious and metaphysical with the story. Scientist messes with DNA. Scientist creates uncontrollable contagious virus that causes dead to attack. Scientist gets eaten. That’s a time-honored storyline and I don’t think it was improved with all the other bits tacked on.
Mikey: Aw, that was my favorite part. This movie has a pretty incredible critical reception, and the audience seems to agree (90% critics, 81% audience at Rotten Tomatoes). For a horror movie, that’s pretty crazy. Where do you see this effect coming from?
I can’t explain those high ratings except to say that the original must have been MUCH better than the dubbed version. Seriously, it just wasn’t that special. Now I’m questioning my own judgement. Is this a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes? Or did I really fail to get the point of the movie?
Mikey: I'm on that same boat with you. So then how would you rate this movie? Since you don’t really care for horror movies, let me phrase it this way: what is the most unpleasant thing you would rather have done than watch the movie?
I have to answer this question two ways.
Personally, I would rate this movie 1.5 out of 5 so that Netflix wouldn’t recommend anything else like it. I did not enjoy watching or hearing all the biting.
If I take my own preferences out of the equation it would rate much higher… maybe 3.5 out of 5. It was a solid story for the most part and I think it did what zombie movies aim to do. It didn’t really wow me, though.
Mikey: I'm calling that a 3.5, because this ain't Netflix! Tomorrow, we will be reviewing The Witch, so come back and check it out. If you missed the earlier link, you can find Solee's interview of me at SoloRien.wordpress.com.