Review: Virus of the Dead

Virus of the dead takes the premise of POV horror and merges it quite cleverly with the emerging social media / webcam horror format to deliver no less than 30 (yes, 30!) anthology segments which tracks a diverse range of survivors taking it in turns to produce ‘vlogs’ to inform other survivors, converse with loved ones or simply document the initial attack – many ending in demise for those ill-fated enough to be waving their smart phones around at the beginnings of the Zombie Apocalypse.

In possibly one of the strongest segments, in terms of both production value and violent content, the anthology opens with an eco-terrorist group claiming responsibility for the unleashing of a virus which would bring on the end.

Naturally, just deserts are served.

From then we get to see new characters, some who offer concurrent episodes to their stories, some stand alone, some funny, some gory, some emotional; as you would imagine, pretty much every angle of zombie apocalypse scenario you could tell in 3 minutes on a budget of about £50.

I started to make notes as the anthology kicked off, but I quickly gave up on that as I quickly realised that my review would turn into list had I have attempted to review each segment, so I will do my best to evaluate the film as a whole feature.

Certainly, bang for buck must be one of the biggest pulls to the anthology, and I really respect that. The effort that has gone into collating segments from the keen creative to some bigger names and genre regulars must have been a right hassle to collate coherently, and even to keep people to submitting within a usable timeframe! This not only ensured a certain quality between segments, but also a diversity between the clips.

And that there is.

I loved some of the stories, indeed even the dialogue only ‘YouTube’ style mock Vlogs really kept me engaged. Some were wittier than others, some focussed on telling a story with a moralistic point, some were straight up slapstick, whereas others offered a form of satire to the whole vlogging scene (if it can be called that). Some of the films best moments can be found in the lines of those trapped in their homes, colourful characters making the most out of a somewhat dire situation.

Others went down a more traditional route, often showing a more human and heartfelt side to the outbreak effecting the lives of real people. Some paid homage to movies such as Zombie-land, and others just went for a slightly blander approach of simply having zombies accosting them whilst out and about and ending with them getting munched with loud screams and shaky cams.

As can be expected there is a variety of quality, and indeed production value. Whilst I really applaud the clever writing of some sections – those who managed to tell more of a story in 3 minutes than some features manage in 90 – others just felt exactly as what they were trying to portray; that is someone just filming themselves going about their business recording on a cell-phone.

Within any anthology some sections would be better than others, however here, with a colossal running time of 1 hour and 42 minutes, there are periods where a few generic ones back to back made watching the whole shaky cam screaming affairs somewhat disorientating.

My final gripe was that there wasn’t as much diversity between many of the sections as there needed to be – many pretty much tell the same story, often stories which lacked any moral or subtext to be considered clever, and with a clearly limited budget, it wasn’t like these sections really packed a punch in the gore department either. It was cool that some took on a more serious or tragic angle, but again, quite a few sections did the same thing, whether it be a wife who’d been bitten or a girlfriend about to be, it was becoming difficult to differentiate.

Overall, however, your mileage is going to vary on this one. If you love the whole POV/Webcam style of horror films (as so many do) then this is going to be right up your alley, and clocking in at 30 or so, segment entries, you’ve pretty much got it all here. For me, whilst I definitely enjoyed the film, I felt it played out at one level of intensity, with perhaps not quite enough ‘stand-out’ sections for me to rave about. That said, there are definitely enough good segments and moments of violence for me to recommend you checking it out, even if I don’t think it will end up becoming anyone’s favourite zombie movie ever, I can’t see anyone not having a good time with it either.

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