Reviews & Counting
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The Plague(2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Hal Masonberg

James Van Der Beek/Tom Russel
Ivana Milicevic/Jean
Brad Hunt/Sam
Dee Wallace Stone/Nora
6 10
Shite tumbles down the drain when pretty much every nine year old brat around the world fall into a weird coma all at the same time. Ten years later Tom Russel (Van Der Beek) returns home after a stint in the Boys' Club (i.e. prison). Bad day to come back as the comatose kids (now teens) all wake up on that day with murder on the fritz. Night of the Living Zit Poppers ensues!

THE PLAGUE has Clive Barker's name all over it as Producer and Presenter, and that was enough for me to want to party with it. I was actually sure the flick was based off one of his short stories but upon further research, I found out that it wasn't. No matter though as THE PLAGUE wound up being a tight little ride that kept me where I belonged, in my motherf*cking seat, fervently chewing on my motherf*cking  Doritos (Ranch baby, Ranch!) .

Old school John Carpenter kept ringing in my melon throughout this watch in the sense that the narrative was launched by a unique premise, then took us on familiar grounds while communicating the whole with visual panache and a minimal score that worked magic for the creepy factor. Granted, if you've seen one Zombie movie, you'll feel a strong air of deja vu while wrangling this bitch. I'm talking people running away from a horde of near invincible foes, heroes barricading themselves in a enclosed environment and we even get the "my daughter is turned but I'll trust her anyways cause I'm a dumbass and get killed for it" device. Although definitely cliched, the action driven nature of the unraveling of events, the striking chilling imagery on display and the relentless scares/suspense set pieces that were slapped my way, kept me a happy clam-eater none the less. The best way I can describe this flick is Prince of Darkness meets Village of the Dammed and that in itself is a compliment.

The strong cast in this petting Zoo was also a treat to watch. The film established its characters and their relationship firmly enough in its first block, hence making me give a hoot for them when the madness rock and rolled their asses. Big props to the now pumped up James Van Der "I don't want to wait for our lives to be over" Beek for his brooding performance. The dude made me a fan with his brave show in "Rules of Attraction" and seeing him "Scream King" around in this one solidified my all new respect for him. He just worked as a horror lead! Keep it up Jimmy! And was that the always efficient Dee Wallace Stone in a small yet pivotal role? YOU BET IT WAS! I mucho appreciated the lady's presence as she always makes a genre bon-bon even better! Tag to all that a deliciously dread filled mood, a couple of hard hitting gory bits (all about that broken leg...ouch) and a tantalizing mystery as to "what's really going on" and you get a strong Indie that jabbed at all the right places...below the belt.

Sadly, all that horror loving was somewhat pissed on by the film's shaky foundation when it came to the "why" behind the Living Dead Teens lunacy. The flick frustratingly kept changing its rules as it moved forward as if searching for the "why" itself. Result; I didn't fully grasp what was going on and that took away from the overall experience. The same could be said about the feeble last block. Not only was it filled with "dumb character moves" to serve the plot, it also slapped a bullshit way for the heroes to find out "the truth" and an esoteric finale that had me scratching my head like a monkey attempting to solve an algebra equation. I don't know what type of wrap-up I was looking for (actually a downbeat one would've been swell) but this convenient and half thought out conclusion wasn't it that's for damn sure!

With that stabbed and gutted, THE PLAGUE had me in its claws for its first hour and then semi lost its grasp on me with its final act. On the whole though, it was worth the sit down, no doubt and was better than at least half of the Studio crap I've been force fed this year. Catch this virus!

The flick wasn't a tomato sauce Festival but when it smacked down, it did it harshly. We get a nasty broken leg bone, mangled faces, countless bullet hits and lots of gruesome after the fact bodies.
I don't care what anybody says but James Van Der "I don't want to wait for our lives to be over" Beek (Tom Russel) is a good actor. Here he took a flimsy role and made it compelling by internalizing whilst displaying an endearing intensity. Ivana Milicevic (Jean) was hot to trot and able most of the way. The script did let her her down now and again, making her look bad. Brad Hunt (Sam) was credible and likeable. Dee Wallace Stone (Nora) owned the scenery as per sual when she popped up for her bit. Good cast!
T & A
The ladies get James Van Der "I don't want to wait for our lives to be over" Beek showing off his Bo-Flex torso and we get Ivana Milicevic's plump and juicy lips.
I had never heard of Hal Masonberg but will keep tabs on him after this one! I dug his stylish yet restrained visuals and his competent knack at generating suspense. It felt like a horror fan directed this baby and that always warms by dead beat heart.
I totally fell in love with the chilling, dark and powerful John Carpenter-ish score here! AWESOME!
THE PLAGUE wasn't the be all and end all of genre films but it tossed enough originality, nail biting scenes, strong acting (James Van Der "I don't want to wait for our lives to be over" Beek owned!) and horror friendly aesthetics my way for me to give a fudge. Sure the film was fairly conventional and the last block was limper than Limp Bizkit's cookie cutter music but I'll take flawed yet ambitious over stale and safe any freaking day! Worth a shot amigos!
Director Hal Masonberg was casting production assistant on What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

The film was shot in Manitoba, Canada

Sexy Ivana Milicevic will be a Bond Girl in the upcoming Casino Royale.