By Dakota Cantwell
With zombie pop culture littered with countless books, movies, and television shows, it’s hard to find an original idea to release to the public. Instead, it’s often better to present an old idea in a new way. This is an idea that Gustavo Hernández attempts to bring to life with his new movie ‘Virus-32.’
‘Virus-32’ is a shudder exclusive, Spanish-language zombie movie that lumbered onto streaming in 2022. Starring Paula Silva as Iris and Pilar Garcia as her daughter, Tata, the film begins with a mother distancing herself from her family and grief with alcohol and a no-responsibility lifestyle. Tata shows up at Iris’ front door for a weekend with her mother, only to find out that her mother forgot and took an extra shift to earn some money. Unsure of what to do, Iris had Tata join her on her overnight shift as a security guard at the recreation center where she works. Missing signs left and right, soon the two will learn firsthand of the viral outbreak causing people to turn violent and murderous toward each other.
Silva provides a much-needed depth to a movie like this, portraying the broken mother hiding her pain. Her feelings play well on screen. Whether she’s encouraging her daughter or hiding from the zombie nearby searching diligently for her, Silva’s emotions bleed across the film. While not as compelling, Garcia has a chemistry with Silva that allows the viewer to remember what Iris is fighting for throughout the film.
Luis, portrayed by Daniel Hendler, is injected into the film as a husband and soon to be father doing anything he can to protect his family. His addition to the film allows for the complex tension of the film to grow as he and Iris often clash in their struggle to survive in the confines of the recreation center.
The rage zombie, playing off the idea of movies like ’28 Days Later,’ is a faster, more violence-focused enemy. The 32 from the film’s title comes from the 32 seconds of peace and inactivity that the zombies experience following a violent outburst. While the film never attempts to explain this and the rules feel at times inconsistent, the zombies create a character all themselves that keep the cast moving to survive.
While some of the acting may have been lacking at times, the camera work in the film shows Hernández’s experience as a director. With the use of continuous long shots to show the city as it falls apart, the use of close-up isolated shots to explore the actor’s emotion, and the quick cuts in the chase scene to present a sense of chaos, the cinematography of this film is one of it’s strongest highlights. The film doesn’t shy away from breaking the personal space of scenes to focus the viewer on the feeling and not just the set. These artful shots allowed the film not to focus on jump scares to keep the viewers’ interest. With a focus more on tense, drawn-out scenes, or chaotic quick cuts, the film avoids the cliché jump scares for the most part.
The film is rather dark through most of its scenes, lending an opportunity to use bright lights to play with the scene’s chaos or fear. This sometimes makes it harder to track the action and leans too much on the strobe effect in some of the chases, but the darkness lets to droll reality play out.
Much of the film focuses more on the tense moment of questioning what’s going to happen and the score plays into these feelings well. With a heavy reliance on the strings, the music puts the viewer on edge, waiting for the inevitable. While not terribly varied or heavily present, the score did well to enhance the scenes and never overtook what was happening on screen.
The color scheme remained muted and earth tones from most of the film. Being trapped in the rec center for the film did not allow for much variety in this regard. Still, the bottled set was large enough to never feel boring or confining. The film utilized smoke bombs at one point, giving one of the more stunning, if not also one of the more frustrating character decisions, of the film.
While much of the film is well-paced and presents a familiar story with fresh takes, the film seems to force too much character growth by the end, leaving a feeling of a movie that just couldn’t land the ending. While still enjoyable, the ending felt more like a cookie-cutter finish instead of an organically brought-about conclusion. Still, Silva’s emotion-filled acting and Hernández’s skillful direction give an enjoyable film, even if it won’t replace the classics. With a fresh take on the rage-fueled virus zombie and utilization of on-screen security camera feeds, ‘Virus-32’ lands somewhere between ’28 Days Later’ and ‘VHS,’ giving a uniquely familiar experience to viewers.
Categories: Zombie films
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