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Christopher Webster [Film Festival 03.20.11] post apocalyptic movie review scifi horror thriller drama

Year: 2011
Directors: Nicolás Goldbart
Writers: Nicolás Goldbart
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 8 out of 10

"At its core, Fase 7 is a savvy blend of [rec] and J.G. Ballard's "High Rise."

Coco (Daniel Hendler) and his wife Pipi (Jazmin Stuart) are a young couple with a baby on the way. They always seem to be in the middle of another argument (that Coco is destined to lose), and they argue so much, in fact, that they at first don't catch on as mobs start to empty out the supermarkets and one siren after another begins to blare in the background. Even once their apartment building is quarantined and sealed up, they spend more time trying to find ways to entertain and divert themselves than keep abreast of the televised reports of a lethal virus that is rapidly becoming global.

Their neighbor Horacio (scene-stealer #1 Yayo Guridi) takes every opportunity to impress upon Coco the increasing gravity of their situation. He shows him how to set traps (in which to catch other tenants), gives him a gun and a biosuit, even loans him a video that outlines how the New World Order plans to wipe out the unwashed masses with designer viruses (a video that features Alex Jones, no less). Horacio's plans start to make more sense to Coco once the two of them are confronted by some of the building's more panicked male residents, and tribal lines are soon drawn between one floor and another. This self-appointed militia decides that anyone who shows signs of contagion must be further quarantined, which doesn't sit well with Horacio or Coco at all, and even prompts elderly loner Zanutto (Federico Luppi, scene stealer #2) to violently strike back.

It's my opinion that one of the (admittedly numerous) reasons there are so many fans of "Shaun of the Dead" is that film's depiction of the gradual and sometimes clueless way its characters come to realize how the world is changing right in front of them. Whereas the opening scenes of "Night of the Living Dead" and its many, many children drop you right into the middle of the harshness, "Shaun"'s slow burn blended the absurd with the banally plausible, and helped to validate the sheer and varied range of narrative possibility in the post-apocalyptic and zombie sub-genres. "Fase 7" director Nicolas Goldbart opts to tell this latest post-apocalyptic story with just such an approach in mind, and his directorial debut is an exceptional horror comedy that joins the ranks of the best PA satires.

The similarities to certain genre-busters such as "Shaun", "Zombieland", and even "Delicatessen" are unavoidable, but this time around there ain't a zombie or cannibal in sight. The sharp, witty story is bolstered by a super-strong cast, and this is one of those scripts that understands how people sometimes can't let go of their habits and routines, not even in the face of potential extinction. But the person who makes the quickest shift into commando mode may not necessarily have the best chance of survival; sometimes, even in the face of mob rule and social decay, some people survive just because of sheer dumb luck.

At its core, "Fase 7" is a savvy blend of "[rec]" and J.G. Ballard's "High Rise", while not as dour as either. There's a steady balance of dread and black comedy throughout, and once things get going its brisk 95 minutes breeze on by. Director/Scriptwriter Goldbart knows full well that most if not all of us are fully familiar with the checklist of end-times tropes, and doesn't waste time on unnecessary explanations or diatribes, nor does he overdo the darkness, figuratively or literally. A large majority of the film is brightly lit and even vaguely cheery, something you can't help but notice once a light goes out. It's a highly effective tactic; near film's end, a pivotal confrontation in a darkened parking garage makes excellent use of sound, flashlight glare and muzzle flashes, and is just dynamite. A definite personal highlight of this year's SXSW, I'd recommend "Fase 7" to anyone who likes their PA with a lot of top-notch dialogue and performances, a touch of hope, and a surplus of confident filmmaking.

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Phoebe (11 years ago) Reply

Sounds good! I can't wait to see it =)

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