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INFECTION (2019)

Directed by Flavio Pedota
Written by Flavio Pedota, Yeimar Cabral
Starring Rubén Guevara, Leonidas Urbina, Magdiel González, Genna Chanelle Hayes, Isabel Bertelsen, Luca de Lima, Anibal Grunn, Johanna Juliethe, Markian Kazandjian, Ronnie Nordenflycht, Nelson Rivero, Yon Henao Calderón, Francis Rueda
Find out more about this film here!

While there usually has to be some kind of twist in order for a zombie movie to stand out from the herd, INFECTION simply tells a solid, but not so original story of one man on the run with a zombie plague erupting around him. Set in Venezuela, INFECTION attempts to tie in current events with its story, but is most successful when it just embraces what it is and gives us straight up exciting and scary zombie action.

When his wife becomes sick with a fast-spreading infection that turns people into snarling zombies, a doctor named Adam (Rubén Guevara who has Zoolander’s Blue Steel look nailed) sends his son away with relatives to the countryside while he takes care of the sick in his Venezuelan village. But once the virus begins to spread out of control, Adam begins a cross-country trek to find his son and make sure he’s safe. In between Adam and his son—INFECTED ZOMBIES!

This is basically a film about a father crossing a great distance to locate his son. It’s as simple as that and as long as filmmaker Flavio Pedota sticks to that, INFECTION is lean and strong. The action is well paced and decently choreographed. There are a variety of times where Adam is in a seemingly life-threatening situation and he escapes within an inch of his life. There’s a lot of guns and snarling zombies and a big cast of people who Adam helps or Adam fights before they become infected and he moves on to the next situation. It’s just straight up one man against the world, first person shooter style storytelling. Anyone who watched an episode of THE WALKING DEAD or enjoyed a zombie film from Romero to Bava are going to see stuff that is very familiar. But instead of it feeling like a ripoff, INFECTION feels like a familiar sofa you sink into and enjoy. Maybe because zombies aren’t the flavor of the month anymore, but INFECTION just felt warm, cozy, and fun.

There are attempts to make INFECTION modern that work only half of the time. I know this film was most likely made before the Covid outbreak, but it feels almost as if it were influenced by our modern obsession with the epidemic as the main concern to everyone is infection and not getting the virus. The film does a decent job of capturing the panic of an outbreak and all of the unknowns that go along with it in its early stages. This was an aspect that I feel was handled capably and surprisingly accurately, given that we are sort of living that out in real time right now.

INFECTION also tackles the border issues of Venezuelans attempting to cross over into Mexico and possibly then to the United States. It’s when this theme is introduced very late in the game that makes the film feel preachy as it sides with Venezuelan refugees (it is a Venezuelan film after all). The problem is that if a zombie infection is threatening to cross the border into another country, it’s kind of a no-brainer not to let folks in. As xenophobic as it is, we again are seeing all of this play out in real time, and these dire circumstances seem to be necessary in order to contain and survive the problem. In the world of INFECTION, though, there is a cure to the disease eventually, so I guess the film is trying to identify the stigma of once having an infection and then still being shunned by society. The main problem is that the film reaches this conclusion way too late in the story and feels shoved in there at the end as an attempt to have a message. Had INFECTION been about the stigma of not being able to cross the border once you’ve had a disease and were cured, I think the clips from the ending would have resonated more. As is, we’ve just sat through an example of the carnage and mayhem caused by the zombie plague, so the point is kind of lost.

Real world similarities aside, INFECTION is a fast paced and thrilling zombie film that always keeps its eyes on the prize. It’s a mad dash of a film that feels pumped full of adrenaline. Filmmaker Flavio Pedota does a great job of injecting this one full of emotional heft and dire situations to threaten our hero’s quest to find his son. If you’re looking for a non-complicated, somewhat gory, always exciting actioner, INFECTION fits the bill nicely.