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. Moving on to Year Five of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2014 and going through September 30, 2015. I have posted compilation 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 worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding 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! 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 on September 29, 2015. Available On Demand, digital download, and Blu-ray/DVD!
A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT (2013)
Directed by Benjamin Roberds, Jordan Reyes
Written by Benjamin Roberds
Starring David Chandler, Maxwell Moody, Eva Boehnke, Kaylee Bridge
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Wow! This was a fantastic film! It’s the type of film that you give to folks who are sick of zombie films to show them that there is still room for fresh and new ideas in the zombie genre. Yes, there are too many zombie films, but some of them are actually well done, and this is one has more new and ingenious ideas then most.
David Chandler plays Clay, one of the survivors of the zombie apocalypse that didn’t really destroy society as it only lasted about 20 minutes. Now life is pretty much like it was before the zombies rose; the only difference is that there are now laws protecting the zombies, as an act of violence towards the zombies can trigger them to be violent and begin eating humans again. Leave them be and they simply wander around and prefer oats to human brains. Kept in fields where they can roam and be visited by their loved ones, a peaceful coexistence has formed. But when Clay’s sister Mia (Eva Boehnke) refuses to move on after her boyfriend becomes a zombie, Clay takes matters into his own hands and decides to do away with her boyfriend in order for her to form a relationship with his best friend and roommate Todd (Maxwell Moody). This single act of violence triggers an all-new zombie apocalypse and forces Clay to run for his life with hordes of zombies on his tail.
A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT is overflowing with exciting new ideas that take what we know about zombies and turn it on its ear. The film smartly offers a fresh perspective, playing with the notion that if we hadn’t reacted violently to the zombies, maybe there would have been a way for us and them to coexist peacefully. Sure it’s a bit of a pacifist way of looking at things, but after enduring so many films taking a more aggro and morose approach, it’s like a breath of fresh air to see the zombie apocalypse from a fresh and hopeful viewpoint. The themes of A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT are also intriguing as, while early zombie films could be used as a rich allegory for consumerism, racism, militarism, or whatever, more recent zombie flicks have cut out those themes and just made it about us versus them. But this film rips its thematic heft straight from the headlines, as a single act of violence triggers a response of apocalyptic proportions. While this feels like a response to the Ferguson riots and the Michael Brown case, it also is reminiscent of the assassination of Kaiser Wilhelm to spark the beginning of a world war. A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT is the type of film that you want to talk about with those you watch it with afterwards, and when was the last time you saw a zombie movie that could do that?
On top of the thematic depth of A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT, once the zombies reignite the film is a non-stop chase sequence that moves at a pace akin to FURY ROAD in the fact that it punches the accelerator and lets it ride for a solid forty-five minutes up until the powerfully resonant end. There are scenes during this chase that are brilliantly framed and constructed, such as a blind zombie in an abandoned building that charges at the smallest sound. This is a film that knows how to scare and keep the heart racing.
While some of the makeup is dodgy, the film also has some creepy effects, such as the aforementioned blind zombie makeup. The acting is an oddity as well. It’s not necessarily bad–just otherworldly, as if the actors are aliens trying to act like humans. Maybe this is a statement about how a worldwide catastrophe makes people distant and inhuman, or maybe it’s just a stylistic choice by the director. But all inhumanity washes away once the zombies start running, as I was fully invested in the well-intentioned efforts of the protagonist. A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT was probably made for a fraction of the budget of a single episode of THE WALKING DEAD. Nevertheless, it is a powerful and potent film no fan of horror with depth and resonance should miss. Made a few years ago, this film was finally released, and it’s a powerful entry in the zombie genre no proper horror fan should miss.
THE 2014-2015 COUNTDOWN!
#31 – A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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