Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Clay Causes Carnage: "A Plague So Pleasant" (2013)

It must be frustrating for a film maker to have a vision of their story in their head, but not the budget to make it a reality. Some film makers give up and move on, and some make do with what they have and hope for the best. Benjamin Roberds and Jordan Reyes make do, and make an effective film that shakes things up in the zombie cinema canon.

Clay (David Chandler) narrates his bland black and white world. The recent zombie apocalypse lasted twelve hours, and now the living and the walking dead coexist uneasily. Shooting a zombie in the head is a crime, since that act provokes the zombies. The zombies cooperate by not eating humans, instead snacking on oats. Visiting dead friends and relatives is a possibility thanks to zombie reserves where they roam around. The undead are a nuisance, as humans must sit in on boring meetings about how to handle the infestation but as always, the government has a plan in case there is an uprising.

Clay's ultra-douchey roommate Todd (Max Moody) is interested in Clay's sister, Mia (Eva Boehnke). Mia turns him down, saying she has a boyfriend- which is partially true. Twice a week, Mia visits her dead boyfriend at one of the zombie reserves, knitting him clothing and pretending everything is fine except for the fact that he is dead. Todd hits on an idea. Why not remove the boyfriend from the equation by shooting him? He's on a reserve, what could possibly go wrong?

Roberds and Reyes pick this moment to do a complete change in the look of the film that works so well. This isn't a comedy, the opening scenes are more satirical on par with a Coen brothers film. When the film heads into gory horror, that is also handled well. The story clocks in at under eighty minutes, a perfect running time for the plot. Budgetary restraints are evident, though. Some of the makeup is obvious, the video picture is less than clear here and there, and the sound mix is all over the place (the lone song in here is played too loudly).

However, the cast is very good. Roberds edited and Reyes did the cinematography, and both handle those extra jobs very well. I liked Roberds' ideas in the film, and that he didn't turn this into a guffawing comedy that probably would not have worked as well. The violence and gore are strong, and Chandler dutifully carries the film on his shoulders.

"A Plague So Pleasant" is definitely something different, and refreshes a genre that is getting more and more stale by the week. Zombies deserve more efforts like this (from Wild Eye Releasing). The film is not rated by the MPAA, and contains strong physical violence, brief gun violence, strong gore, profanity, brief nudity, and adult situations. (* * * *) out of five stars.

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