Holy shit, it’s cold! M.L. Miller aka the @$$hole formerly known as Ambush Bug here. Let’s continue the countdown fun with the Best Snow-Covered horror films for the chilly month of January. To be fair, I’m going to forgo repeating myself with Holiday horror films since we covered that last month.
The frigid air, the crunch of snow underfoot, and the contrast between red blood and pure white snow makes Snow-covered horror films one of my favorite sub-subgenre’s of horror. I’m going to count down the films that made me feel the chilliest while watching. As far as how I compiled this list? Well, there’s no real method to my special brand of madness. I’ll be counting down every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through December to my favorite snow-covered horror film of the year. I’m sure there are some that I’ve missed, overlooked, or simply haven’t seen yet, but that’s what the comments section below is all about.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own damn list…let’s go!
#9 – MUTANTES – #9
Why is MUTANTES #9? Because it is one badass and brutal little zombie film that most of you probably haven’t seen but should. Echoing themes from everything from 28 DAYS LATER to THE FLY, this is an impressive zombie film that definitely stands apart from the herd. It’s also set in the snow and takes advantage of the chilling environment to add to the intensity. You can find it here on DVD/BluRay!
Director: David Morlet (Morley)
Writer: Louis Paul Desanges & David Morlet (Morley)
Starring: Helene de Fougerolles & Francis Renaud
Too many zombie flicks start off with the initial outbreak. It’s a story told over and over, where people are surprised the dead walk. Half the movie is chewed up establishing the stuff we already know: the zombie plague is passed through biting, best way to kill them is the headshot, blah, blah, blah…
MUTANTES doesn’t follow that well-tread path. At the beginning, there’s a simple explanation concerning a virus. and then it moves on with a story of three survivors who seem to be well aware of the rules of how to survive a zombie apocalypse. Did the virus come from an asteroid? Monkeys? A school science project gone horribly, horribly wrong? Who knows? And who really cares? The best zombie films just happen without explanation. A surefire way for me to not be a fan (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD excluded) is to explain why the zombies are walking around and chomping brains.
To be precise, the creatures in this story are more “infected” than “zombies” although the virus kills the host then makes them run around in search for living flesh to gnaw on. I know to some there’s no difference, but you’d be surprised at how true zombie-heads will flip their shit if you don’t distinguish the two. As much as I have a fondness for the old school Romero-roaming zombies, the sprinting infected a la 28 DAYS LATER are pretty terrifying in their own right.
Speaking of 28 DAYS LATER, MUTANTES plays much more like a well-made sequel to that film, much more so than the larger-scoped 28 WEEKS LATER. While the sequel pulled back the camera to show more of a big picture of the outbreak, MUTANTES tells a much more intimate tale, even more intimate than the Danny Boyle classic. MUTANTES focuses on one couple fighting desperately to overcome the plague. It’s a much more personal story. One (Marco, played by Francis Renaud) is infected; the other (Sonia played by Helene de Fougerolles) is apparently immune to the virus. Unlike most infected zombie films, the transformation is not immediate, which makes for a much more intimate and horrifying experience. Watching these two people who are very much in love try desperately to save their humanity proved to be tough to watch. Director David Morlet takes his time and really lets you get to know these two characters well. When Marco starts having fits of rage and chases Sonia through the hospital they’ve taken refuge in, the danger is twofold. First is the immediate danger, as Sonia is running for her life fleeing her blood soaked lover. Second, and more palpable, is the fear I experienced when the fit had subsided and Sonia opens herself up again to Marco. The strength of the two’s relationship is more than this reviewer could handle, that’s for sure, and while Marco’s fate seems inevitable, I felt myself rooting for Sonia to find a cure and have the two spend a little more time together. The film crosses more into Cronenberg’s THE FLY territory during this middle section as the patient turns on the one who has helped him through the whole film.
But fear not, the intimacy is soon shattered when a group of wandering nomads armed to the teeth break into the hospital. Of course, this being a zombie film, the true monsters are those left alive, surviving the zombie holocaust, but losing the humanity that made them alive in the first place. The final moments, though somewhat similar to the bone-chilling “In the House—In a Heartbeat” sequence from 28 DAYS LATER, is just as intense, with the library smoke bomb scene being the highlight scare scene in the whole film only comparable to the scene where the survivor with the machete cracks open a can of whupass on a slew of the infected.
I was really surprised by how good this film was. The acting is pretty fantastic and de Fougerolles is pretty easy on the eyes with that impish hotness French femmes often exude. The infected have a glazed donut look here with their features swollen, smoothed out and slick with blood, making them look more like walking open wounds–which would make sense since that’s the way the virus spreads. For you folks like my inbred cousins who “don’t like tuh read movies”, I must warn you this is a French film and the subtitles I saw the film with were a bit off in the translation, but it didn’t take away from the film as a whole. If you loved 28 DAYS LATER, you’re most likely going to take a liking to this film. And for those who thought that zombie horror was overplayed, MUTANTES comes along and proves that there’s life in the old sub-genre yet.
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