I think we can all agree that when it comes to something called Pandemic, you want it to be over quickly. This second-rate horror movie lasts a mere 92 minutes but still overstays its welcome.
Pandemic’s working title was Alone. The name was changed, presumably because (A) another thriller called Alone came out in 2020, about a woman terrorized by a stalker; (B) this film stars Tyler Posey, Summer Spiro and Donald Sutherland, thus stretching the definition of “alone”; and (C) the screenplay by Matt Naylor was simultaneously made into a Korean filmed called #Alive (available on Netflix). Even the movie wasn’t alone!
The title also no doubt also plays off the current pandemic, though horror nomenclature would suggest that Apocalypse would have been a better name, since this is more of a zombie outbreak than a viral one. As the film opens we see Aiden (Tyler Posey) holed up in his apartment, running out of food and water and sanity at roughly the same rate.
Symptoms of immunity include wild eyes, heavy breathing and acute overacting
Outside, zombie hordes are running amok. Before the power goes out, television news reports suggest that they remain stuck in whatever action they were performing when they were infected, repeating the same phrase and/or going through the same motion, all the while looking for people to eat. With even the hallways full of the undead, Aidan is trapped in his home.
He has all but given up hope when he spots what looks to be another non-infected person (Summer Spiro) in an apartment across the courtyard. He can’t get to her, but they can hold up messages for each other, and he rigs up a little zip line to send her some bottled water. His name and hers – Aiden and Eva – suggest they’d good at future repopulation efforts.
Stunt co-ordinator turned director Johnny Martin delivers an uneven product that veers between dark comedy and terror without ever settling squarely on either one. Easily the best moments are when Donald Sutherland shows up as a fellow survivor who seems just a touch too avuncular given the circumstances.
But the rest of the film, including an oddly, unsatisfyingly sudden ending, fails to find traction. That extends to Posey’s performance, although I wasn’t sure where to lay the blame – it can be hard to tell the difference between an enthusiastic actor not reined in by the director, and one being actively pushed to perform at 11 on a scale of 10. Whatever the cause, let’s just say that in this Pandemic, symptoms of immunity include wild eyes, heavy breathing and acute overacting.
Pandemic is available March 2 on demand.
2 stars out of 5