M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved starting with the year I began reviewing the genre officially October 1, 2010 through October 1, 2011. I have posted my best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around a bit. I’ve even added a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2010 and September 30, 2011 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number, 31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released February 5, 2011. Available on Video On Demand, digital download, and DVD/BluRay!

#6 – MUTANTS (2009)

Director: David Morlet
Writer: Louis Paul Desanges & David Morlet
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…

MUTANTS doesn’t follow that well-tread path. At the beginning, there’s a simple explanation concerning the spread of a highly contagious 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 does kill 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 terrifying in their own right.

Speaking of 28 DAYS LATER, MUTANTS 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, MUTANTS tells a much more intimate tale, even more intimate than the Danny Boyle classic. MUTANTS focuses on one couple fighting desperately to overcome the plague. 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 up close and horrifying experience. Watching these two people who are very much in love try desperately to save their humanity proves to be an emotional loopty loop to endure. Director David Morlet takes his time and really lets you get to know these two characters. 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. The story also acts as a metaphor for abusive relationships as Sonia sticks with Marco even after these fits of violence and rage.

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 in the whole film only comparable to the scene where the survivor with the machete cracks open a can of whup-ass on a slew of the infected.

I was really surprised by how good this film was. The acting is fantastic and, I must admit, de Fougerolles is very easy on the eyes. The infected have a glazed donut look here with their features swollen, smoothed out, and slick with blood. They eventually 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 think that zombie horror is overplayed, MUTANTS comes along and proves that there’s life in the old sub-genre yet.

THE 2010-2011 COUNTDOWN!

#8 – LET ME IN
#10 – RED, WHITE, & BLUE
#22 – RUBBER
#27 – HUSK
#30 – LA HORDE

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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