When I heard that Bloody Disgusting was going to begin distributing films I couldn't help but rejoice. Here's a site that reports news well. Is very professional knows when its readers would prefer a little bit of human touch rather than straight journalistic reporting. They have a great group of writers and contributors that make you feel all kinds of cozy; like you're talking to an old friend about a movie you just saw. Bloody Disgusting gets modern horror and independent horror.
Phase 7 (Fase 7) is one such picture that BD hath gifted to us from the film festival circuit and is built for the modern horror fan. This half dark comedy, half social commentary is one of a few new releases under the Bloody Disgusting Selects distro arm. Along with Cold Fish, Atrocious, Yellowbrickroad, Rammbock and, coming soon, The Woman, a horror fan has a lot to be happy about. Let's talk about this Argentine entry into the BD Selects family.
This is the directorial debut of Nicolás Goldbart who had previous edited numerous films including The Paranoids which consequently also stars Daniel Hendler who plays the unassuming protector of the last bastion of civilization by keeping tabs on everything in his refrigerator. Hendler, as Coco, must protect his nearly due prego wife alongside his neighbor, who happens to be all too ready for the end of times, from the chaos of the world outside his quarantined building. Does it successfully navigate the line between apathy and empathy that these post-apocalyptic film endeavors can inspire? Let's find out.
For two expecting parents about to bring a kid into this world they seem awfully calm about the chaos unfolding around them... to a point. Watching these two cuddle up and wrap around each other can truly endear the audience, but beyond that its unbelievable. As an expecting father I'm pretty sure my initial reaction to even the remotest chance of pending social unrest would have me running out of town, country, planet. The couple is way too calm about the quarantine that are forced to accept. Maybe that's part of the humor and hyper realism in films is meant for drab 1984 esque downers, but I couldn't help but feel like these two future parents didn't react correctly. This could be because I'm about to be a dad and am hyper sensitive to that issue. Beyond the issue I've taken with the choice of response to the lock down Phase 7 is a pretty solid film.
It plays out like [REC] meets Shaun of the Dead with the choice of language being Spanish instead of English and without the strong British accents. The humor is subtle at times and I couldn't help but get the feeling that a few of the funny bits were lost in translation. I just couldn't figure out if I was supposed to laugh or not. Maybe on a future viewing I'll get the jokes and laugh appropriately. Every once in awhile you even get the feeling that your watching Joon-Hwan Jang's Save the Green Planet and the protagonist has lost his marbles just as much as the rest of the world and just as much as his captors/quarantiners. Once I get past the couple's response to the quarantine I was able to identify with these two crazy kids. There's enough paranoia and deceit to fill an Orwell book and there's an appropriate level of bleakness.
Outside of my ability to identify or not identify with the characters there are some subtleties within the film that can't be ignored. How many movies feature electronic battleship in the face of a pending post-apocalypse? Is this metaphorical even? And it's always nice to hear the Theme from Swan Lake in a picture especially when it's not Browning's Dracula or Black Swan. It's a creepy piece that is used effectively. If there's one thing the promo trailer and stills from Phase 7 will let you know it's that the answer is "YES". Radiation suits can look stylish and can be ordered in a multitude of friendly or off-putting colors depending on the requirement of the job at hand. There hasn't been a radiation suit used this effectively since Back to the Future (Yellow is the new White) and before that The Crazies (White is the new Black). I had to do a double take to make sure Doc Brown was in any of the shots. Did Zemeckis and Romero get a consultants' fees? Also, the music that closed out the movie was very well done. It had shades of Last House at the End of the Woods and in my mind that's one of the best indy soundtracks to date all be it three to four songs.
Phase 7 is artsy at times and others it wants to kick you in the face. I suppose the whole, "what would I do if I found out martial law was being imposed" reaction is harder to answer when you're really faced with it and maybe Goldbart shows the true initial reaction to slowly impending doom... go about your lives and keep repeating, "it's not really happening". There's honesty in this picture. As I said early, its the kind of film that horror fans want. Social criticism with some light comedy and enough shock to satiate the suspense the audience has built within themselves leading up to the finale. What does Phase 7 bring to the post-apocalypse genre that is rarely done; true human response to crisis rather than locked and loaded, action picture imitation without the feeling of helplessness that can leave an audience miserable. Escape if you can Coco and family. Check it out and support Bloody Disgusting Selects. If you get the chance, see it in theatres through the end of the year. On DVD come October.