Pandemic is set in the near future, where a virus of epic proportions has overtaken the planet. There are more infected than uninfected, and humanity is losing its grip on survival. Its only hope is finding a cure and keeping the infected contained. Lauren (Rachel Nichols) is a doctor, who, after the fall of New York, comes to Los Angeles to lead a team to hunt for and rescue uninfected survivors.
Throughout history the human race has faced many pandemics, such as smallpox and TB. And from time to time we face one so devastating that it wipes out massive numbers of people, such as the Black Death, which killed over 75 million! So I suppose its only natural that genre filmmakers look to exploit our fears and make horror films with such diseases at their heart.
Director John Suits has chosen to dive head first into Pandemic, a film about an extinction level pandemic which turns its hosts into wild, zombie like creatures. I know it sounds a little bit too “28 days later”, but in a way to differentiate it form its more illustrious company, Suits has chosen to film Pandemic from the POV of its characters.
Rachel Nichols(2005’s The Amityville Horror) stars as Dr. Lauren Chase, a military medical specialist charged with assisting a rag tag group of military personal go out and retrieve survivors of the pandemic. The other members of our team are Gunner (Mekhi Phifer-The Divergent Series), Denise (Missi Pyle) and Wheeler (Game of Thrones Alfie Allen). Their task is to travel into the devastated quarantine zone, find survivors an(if they are not infected) bring them home. Being the medical expert, only Dr. Chase is qualified to assess if they are infected or not.
Unfortunately for the team, they accidentally run into a dead end, and from here, things start to go a little bit wrong! From here, its a race against both time and the infected hoards that rome the quarantine zone as they make a break to get back to the safety of they military base.
So, should you give Pandemic a chance, or should it be quarantined in bargain bins everywhere?
Well firstly, this is quite an original film in the respect it is filmed though the POV of the characters. This might sound suspiciously like a dreaded found footage film, but when you watch it, it just feels different. For one thing, at no point do you think “why are we seeing this, surly they would have put the sodding camera down by now”.
The acting in the film is very impressive indeed. Usually when you watch these sorts of films, the actors seem uncomfortable when talking directly to the camera. In Pandemic they seem comfortable and this makes a big difference. Most of the characters seem grounded and real, and(for the most part) the individual character arc’s allow the viewer to sympathise with the character. Unfortunately, a few of the other character’s arc’s are a little weak and lack a pay off. One example of this is the character of Denise who shows the viewer a photo of her son, but except for the highly telegraphed scene where she drops it into a horde of zombies, we don't hear any more about it.
Director Suits has put together some excellent action sequences which coupled with the POV style really get the pulse racing. One in particular, where Mekhi Phifer’s character goes mad with a shotgun, taking out shed loads of the infected especially delivered. This is just one of a number of true hold your breath moments Suits has pulled off.
As well as the action sequences, Suits does a pretty good job of building tension, no matter what time of day the film is at. I have seen a number of films that deliver the tension during night scenes, but totally lose it when the sun comes up. There is some real claustrophobic scenes which are clocked in darkness and they really do make you feel uncomfortable.One part of Suits direction that does spoil the film, is although the film paints itself as an all out white knuckle ride of a survival flick, there are a few too many mundane passages that really effect the flow of the film.
Also, while it may not affect everyone, i found the POV style of the film a little uncomfortable at times, and was actually feeling a little travel sick by the end. I’d imagine this feeling would be amplified if i watched it at the cinema on a big screen.
To sum up, id describe Pandemic as like the bastard love child of 28 Days Later and [REC].It gets the balance between the balls to the wall action and character work just about right, which is a credit to its director. Would i recommend it? Yes, i think i would, but if your looking or a steady film to chill out with, then Pandemic isn’t the film for you.