“A Plague So Pleasant” is out on DVD today through Wild Eye Releasing.
In the horror film, “A Plague So Pleasant,” director Benjamin Roberds and co-director Jordan Reyes have put a completely different spin on the zombie genre. The actual zombie apocalypse only lasted 12 hours, but resulted in two billion deaths. There are loads of survivors and shuffling zombies have become a part of everyday life. It is now a felony to shoot a zombie, but they are otherwise harmless unless provoked and can also be distracted with oats over brains. Zombies are the new routine and everyone, including the undead, has adjusted to it.
The film follows Clay Marshall (David Chandler) as he encourages his roommate Todd (Maxwell Moody) to ask out Clay’s sister Mia (Eva Boehnke). The issue is that Mia still considers herself to be involved even though her previous boyfriend of three years died over a year ago and is now a decomposing zombie. Clay takes it upon himself to rectify the situation, but ignites zombie warfare in the process.
On the positive side, “A Plague So Pleasant” is full of fresh ideas for what is otherwise a tiresome concept. Like “The Walking Dead,” people can become zombies even if they die of natural causes. What’s interesting though is that nobody is buried anymore. Cemeteries have been replaced with zombie reserves; fenced off areas where the undead aimlessly roam and where loved ones can still visit the ones they can’t let go of. The film begins in black and white and transitions to color only after Clay’s bold yet careless act sparks the madhouse zombie mayhem you crave. There’s a scene near the end of the film where Clay is wandering the streets and the camera is positioned just behind his left shoulder. It’s a fairly dynamic perspective that allows the viewer to survey the destruction Clay is responsible for.
The film is extremely low budget, which results in certain factors of the film being more than a little shoddy. The acting is really peculiar. Maxwell Moody talks like a father from a 50’s sitcom and his “morning person” speech is repeated for reasons unknown. David Chandler has overwhelmingly awkward line delivery. He speaks very low throughout the film yet seems to pause at weird times similar to William Shatner.
The low budget feel of the film doesn’t become an issue until the film drenches itself in color. Then it’s as if every shortcoming is highlighted in the worst of ways. The make-up effects for a good number of the zombies are lacking or minimal in a way that is entirely too bothersome. If you look like you devoured a ketchup-soaked hamburger too quickly instead of a brainless, rotting zombie, then someone isn’t doing their job correctly.
At the same time though, the zombie that will get the most attention is the one referred to as Bacon Face; a blind zombie that relies on sound to find its next meal. It’s an effect that seems to have been done rather cheaply, but its appearance is gross and memorable which is exactly what a zombie film should aim for. Clay attends an undead awareness meeting that is built up like a mandatory business meeting for work. It is one of the most boring things to be put to film in a long time, but it’s because of this and its content centering on zombies that makes it humorous.
There is a lot of promise buried within “A Plague So Pleasant,” but even with its unique ideas and refreshing atmosphere it’s held back by poor acting . The execution is mostly worthwhile until it comes to the ending, which feels rushed. The film was inexpensive to make since it was filmed for about $3,000 and the self-taught make-up artist was in his teens during the making of the film. It’s an incredible achievement, but you can’t help but wonder what this team could accomplish with a bigger budget and a slightly more polished script. “A Plague So Pleasant” may be rewarding to zombie enthusiasts searching for something new, but will otherwise feel cheesy and unsatisfactory to the casual viewer.