Today I will be reviewing the brand spanking new found footage feature Pandemic. Since it does not give too much away, let’s turn to the IMDB description to give a quick rundown of the plot:
“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.”
When I initially read this description my mind thought, “Zombie movie.” In a way, many zombie movie tropes are in fact present, but the creature itself is in no way undead. The infected are fast, can talk, and are intelligent enough to lay traps. Those last two bits are used to great effect more than once which adds a menacing layer to the creatures as we watch them take advantage of the humanity that our leads still retain.
Our cast of characters are familiar archetypes to anyone who has watched a decent amount of post apocalyptic movies. The predictability of these characters is probably this film’s greatest flaw as we already have a decent idea of what each character is going to do or how a character is going to react long before the actual event. The only thing that saves these characters from being completely boring is the actors inhabiting the roles as each of them add a certain nuance to their performances. With a lesser cast it would have been hard to care at all for any of our leads and they could have easily faded into the background given the intense style of the picture.
The style itself is easily the biggest selling point of this feature as it combines found footage with a direct first person perspective. During action sequences it feels similar to watching a first person shooter in that we can only really tell whose camera we are seeing out of based on the weapon they are holding or by picking out other people that are in frame. This would not be an issue if there were long elegant camera shots, but oftentimes the action cuts across so quickly that it is hard to identify who we are currently following. That being said, when it works, it works wonderfully and adds a level of intensity to each encounter with the infected.
To be honest, this operates as more of an action movie than a horror feature. Sure, there are horror elements, but nothing new is brought to the table in the way of scares or sense of dread. Given that the story is fairly thin and works off of well established horror tropes, I think this plays better as an action movie set against a horror backdrop. Those looking to get scared will most likely be disappointed, but hose looking for an adrenaline fueled ride will leave satisfied.
With the proper expectations in place, I believe one would be hard pressed to not have some fun while watching this film. Sure, it has flaws, but I have to admit that for ninety minutes I was entertained. At the end of the day, isn’t entertainment what movies are all about?