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Apocalyptic horror is directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas who is most know for his film Kidnapped, an acclaimed home invasion flick, that I personally found to be very overrated. The story opens with your typical 28 Days Later viral outbreak that causes the usual bloodthirsty cannibalistic behavior. A group of people on a bus are attacked and amidst the chaos, some escape. The film picks up almost a decade later with the remaining survivors in a gated wintery town called Harmony (Alaska?) where Jack (Jeffery Donovan)and his young daughter Lu (Quinn McColgan) live in a gated home across the street from Patrick (Matthew Fox). Jack and Patrick haven’t spoken in years over the death of Lu’s mother Emma (Valeria Vereau) though Lu sees Patrick and his dog as potential friends. The ‘infected’ seemed to have died off, but the feud between the two men casts a chill beyond the winter weather outside…that is until a new and more horrible threat arises and the two men must work together to save all their lives.
Going into this flick knowing that is is more a survival drama than a zombie/monster movie might help one enjoy it more as it is well-directed and the characters well written. There isn’t really much original about it, though, as it seems Vivas and co-writer Alberto Marini took a bunch of movies like 28 Days Later, The Descent, I Am Legend and Snowpiercer and threw them all in a blender to concoct this tale of remote survivors and the creatures stalking them. It focuses far more on the conflict between Patrick and Jack over the death of Emma, than it does on the mutated infected that are descending on their frozen oasis. The drama is fine and there are some interesting reveals about Lu and her mother, as well as, Patrick’s alleged role in her eventual death. There are some plot problems,too, however, like a sub-plot about Patrick hearing voices over the radio coaxing him to harm Jack, that gets dropped about midway through. It should have been edited out completely, as it goes nowhere. There is also a stupid decision to keep one of the infected chained-up by Patrick, that serves only as a plot device to lure the others in. It made no sense. When the evolved infected finally arrive, the siege is well orchestrated and suspenseful and gives the film an action-filled last act. Vivas has a very strong visual sense and the film looks gorgeous and his shots are captured well by cinematographer Josu Inchaustegui. The make-up and gore FX are quite good and Sergio Moure delivers a fitting score. It is a moderately paced drama with occasional and bloody monster action and if you’re OK with that you might like this thriller more than someone just out for their latest zombie fix.
The cast are good and Vivas evokes good performances out of them. Donovan is solid as the overprotective and bitter Jack. One can understand, in such a world, why he is so protective of Lu and his anger at the drunken Patrick and hesitation to trust him again are understandable and well portrayed. Fox is sympathetic as Patrick. He knows he’s made crucial mistakes and his weaknesses cost a woman her life. The actor conveys this well, as does his pain over being kept distant from Lu and isolated by Jack in a world where they may be the only ones left. Little Quinn McColgan is really surprising as Lu. She gives a very good performance as a kid who has grown to be just at the rebellious point and wants to make decisions for herself, despite the dangerous world she lives in. She also portrays well, an attachment to the mother she barely knew, which gives the film a glimmer of hope and retained humanity. Rounding out is Valeria Vereau who is seen briefly in the opening and in flashbacks as Lu’s mother Emma and Clara Logo as Anne, a pregnant women the two men discover towards the end. Anne just seems to function as a potential new mom for Lu and represent the return of a more traditional family unit to a rebuilding world. The actress is suitable as such.
In some ways, the film leaves you feeling divided. It is far more drama than monster movie and while it portrays that drama well, there are plot holes. There are well written characters to endear to, but the overall story seems to be cobbled together from pieces of movies we have seen before. There is certainly entertainment here and when the monsters do arrive it is fast, furious and bloody and Vivas gives the proceedings a sumptuous look. Basically, the best way to approach this is with cautious expectations and if you go in not expecting much, you might be entertained. Not a bad movie, just not one that really resonates or has a strong identity of it’s own
a generous 3 bullets.