Apparently there's an indie film group in Baltimore that puts out interesting little movies, and this is one of their latest.
It seems to be getting a lot of hate from zombie movie fans, because it doesn't follow the cliche of lots of blood, beautiful stars, and brains brains brains.
Ignore the back cover copy, because whoever wrote it got it all wrong. Either that, or I missed something pretty significant…
The movie gets off to a slow start as the script establishes the basic relationships. Three couples meet for a dinner party to say goodbye to their hosts, who are relocating for a new job. So we've got the successful guy transferring to a new job, his wife who just discovered she's pregnant, another couple who have just decided to divorce because she thinks he's cheating with his ex, and another couple who seem nice enough but don't get much script time.
Then there's a scream outside. Two of the men go outside to investigate. Dramatic pause. They burst back into the home assisting an injured policeman, pursued by several violent people. Brief melee ensues.
Turns out there's a refinery fire north of the city. Or maybe that's a cover story. There's lots of smoke or mist or clouds. People who encounter the smoke become violent. (Zombies…)
So the couples barricade themselves into the home. They find an intruder and beat him up, only to discover he's just a frightened scientist who can explain more about what's happening. (Aliens…)
They find a radio and make contact with the authorities. An armed patrol comes by, but moves on after promising help is coming. The scientist warns they cannot survive in the house because the gas will penetrate sooner or later. They have only one gas mask (from the cop) and there are eight survivors in the house…
The action (finally?) gets going at this point, soon they are down to the last three, and they must leave the house to survive… and we get some spooky scenes in downtown, and a dark ending.
I thought the movie wasn't bad. You see how different characters deal with the unknown, and several of the unknown actors are quite good. It's a character-driven plot.
Most of the special effects (such as the pics on the DVD cover) are from 'news reports' or quick inserts as the scientist explains what's happening. There's really no special effects in the main plot itself.
The zombie concept here would be interesting to put into a wargame context. The idea is that as the gas affects people, they proceed through certain stages – starting with a violent paranoid stage, when (for example) a wife might go into a rage and kill her husband, but still protect her daughter. Then there's the angry, 'attack anything' stage, but they will retreat if you resist hard enough.
The main problem with wargaming this particular plot is that most of the movie takes place inside one home. With wargames, it's often hard to just fit the figures into the same room, let alone fight a battle. Wargaming does outdoors better than indoors.
If you're lucky, you can still find this in the discount bin at Walmart.