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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 05.06.11] United Kingdom scifi

Year: 2011
Directors: Maxì Dejoie
Writers: Maxì Dejoie
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 7 out of 10

Documentary-style horror films are not the novelty they once were, now a common way to cover the deficiencies of filming on cheap digital. Add to this an overused zombie theme, and you’d be forgiven for wanting to give Gerber Syndrome a miss. But a thoughtful script, low key style and above all a heavy sense of dread make this a stand out addition to the genre.

Gerber Syndrome is shot from the point of view of two camera crews following two main characters – Doctor Ricardi, who examines patients and tests them for Gerber Syndrome, a virus that initially displays flu-like symptoms; and Luigi, an officer with the CS (Central Security), a police force specially set up to locate and detain people with advanced Gerber Syndrome, which in the later stages makes its victims act with mindless aggression before dying.

Doctor Ricardi's work takes him to the home of a family friend, whose daughter, Melissa, is in the early stages of the disease. Her family are devastated as the lethal virus begins to overtake her personality, in an upsetting portrayal of zombie transformation that eschews gore (apart from the odd bit of sick), in favour of an emotional family reaction to terminal illness. This has been touched on before, most recently in the Walking Dead, but Gerber Syndrome laudably focuses on this little-used approach to the exclusion of the wearily familiar guts and laughs.

Luigi’s story is a more recognizable one, as he cruises the streets on the lookout for rogue Gerber Syndrome victims. He is macho and seems to enjoy his gruesome work, but also a professional who admonishes the camera crew for the risks they take. This satisfyingly three-dimensional character grows more likable the longer we spend with him, as his job takes him into conflict with violent vigilantes as well as the infected, and they prove just as dangerous. Both these characters’ story arcs are the subdued, unexceptional stories of normal people caught up in the early stages of a deadly pandemic, all the more effective for their believable normality, the feeling it could be you.

Gerber Syndrome isn’t without flaws. For such a realistically presented film, the lack of any real panic in a society where one in every thousand people is infected with a horrific and highly infectious disease is puzzling, especially given the media frenzies and mask wearing that have accompanied relatively minor ‘flu outbreaks in recent years. But this is a small distraction from a doom-laden and quite depressing addition to the zombie genre, that by avoiding laughs, gore and other genre cliches manages to be one of the most effective examples in quite some time.

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soma (11 years ago) Reply

this looks interesting. I prefer the low key realistic stuff.


MaxiD (11 years ago) Reply

Great review! Thank you very much.


Padjslam (11 years ago) Reply

Anybody knows when will it be released?
Sounds good...

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