Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
The denizens of a recently opened apartment building in Argentina must deal with each other while being quarantined during a vicious viral outbreak. Oh, and it’s a comedy.
Is it good movie?
Coco and his pregnant wife, Pipi, have just returned home to their new apartment after a massive grocery shopping trip, only to discover that some vicious disease, which has been sweeping across several continents, has found its way to their door. Literally. Their building, a recent construction, gets quarantined, and over the next few months tensions amongst their new neighbors mount. Lange and Guglierini decide Vanutto is sick and needs to be eliminated, but ultra-prepared whacko survivalist Horacio is convinced they’re just running out of food and want to replenish at the feet of a dead man. Coco befriends Horacio, and learns the ways of survival when Vanutto defends himself…and then becomes unhinged and decides to eliminate everyone in the building.
Despite the above description, Phase 7 is actually mostly comedic. Coco and Pipi, portrayed by Daniel Hendler and Jazmin Stuart, who recently also starred together in The Paranoids, are a loving couple, if a bickering one, and are right on the precipice of caring about the world around them. Vanutto is hilarious as an older, foppish gent who suddenly takes great glee in massacring his neighbors. And Yayo Garudi is an absolute delight as the foul-mouthed Horacio, skulking around in his Level B HAZMAT suit setting shoch charges all over the building.
Phase 7 is all about the characters, and the interactions with each other. This is a great basis for a film, but unfortunately this film never really gets above that. It all takes place in the apartment building, and that necessarily means that all the sets look about the same. The photography is fantastic, with bright colors that pop and the camera doing as many interesting things as possible in the limited milieu. There is even a great scene where Coco and Pipi are out of light bulbs, bur Coco finds a huge blacklight bulb, so that they and their apartment glow for several scenes.
In the end there really is very little character development, and honestly not a whole lot compelling happens. It’s not exactly style over substance, ala Argento, but as much as I enjoyed the film I couldn’t help feeling like there could have been a little more.
Video / Audio
Video: The DVD case says “presented to preserve the aspect ratio of its original exhibition.” It also says “enhanced for widescreen tvs.” Which one is it, fellas? All kidding aside, the transfer here looks really great, excellently showcasing both the bright colors and the dark, claustrophobic scenes.
Audio: There are two Spanish language tracks, 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo, and optional English subtitles. The sound design here seriously channels John Carpenter’s films. Like, hardcore. More homage than theft, but still very obvious.
There are three extended scenes here, with two of them just containing a little extra dialogue, that were obviously just trimmed for time. One, however, shows Coco looking out his window and observing an agitated citizen subdued by riot police. I think that should have stayed in, personally.
I really enjoyed Phase 7, despite its inability to generate any serious tension or give meaningful arcs to any of the wonderfully-drawn characters. It’s funny, has a few bright spots of gore, and is consistently visually entertaining. Two side notes: the music for the DVD menu is March of the SOD, by SOD, which is awesome, and I defy you to take your eyes off of Jazmin Stuart whenever she is on screen. I certainly couldn’t do it.