Monday, February 27, 2012

REVIEW: Mutants

Director: David Morlet
Year 2009

Mutants is an intense and intimate look into what would happen if people began changing into cannibalistic monsters and devouring anything and everyone in sight. French filmmaker David Morlet adds another outstanding film to France’s already substantial resume of modern horror flicks, by combining the feverish urgent style of the new age of zombie movies with the detailed nature of an independent production. What we get with Mutants is an original take on the genre as a whole, plus one hell of an outstanding creature feature.

The film follows a loving couple, Sonia and Marco, as they struggle to survive in this post apocalyptic winter landscape filled with ravenous beasts that want nothing more then to feed on their flesh. With obstacles at every turn, the two come face to face with their worst nightmare, each other. With Marco slowly succumbing to the disease, can Sonia find a way to stop it or will she have to destroy the one person that she loves. That’s some heavy shit right there and the film has the grapes to back it up. If you’ve got the patience and stomach to see this thing through to the end, you won’t be disappointed.

As soon as the film is set into motion, we are thrown into a world that is truly in chaos. The opening credits begin to role, and we are treated to a short little sequence of shots that depict a nameless woman surrounded by ravenous bedlam. There are creatures all around her feasting on some unlucky victims, while a blur of violence surrounds the scenes atmosphere. She races from the feeding frenzy, trudging through the thick snow covered forest until eventually reaching an opening in the trees that appears to be provided by a road. Feeling somewhat safe, she stops for a quick breath only to be decimated by a runaway ambulance that houses a small collection of survivors who have their own share of problems. The impact of the collision instantly produces a gore filled explosion that cakes the windshield of the ambulance and obscures the vision of the driver named Marco, one of our main characters. Within this manic death wagon is his lover Sonia, an overworked Doctor who is desperately trying to save the life of a man who is quickly changing thanks to an epidemic that morphs the inflicted into cannibalistic monsters.

This is our introduction to the two main characters and the beastly world that they live in. It’s harsh, nasty and full of danger, and it’s a perfect way to bring us into this survival of the fittest type of situation. We’re cast into the fray in the first seconds of the film, never knowing the full story on how these characters got there, but knowing that shit has really hit the fan in this cinematic world. It was a brilliant way to open the movie, because it actually feeds the fear for the rest of the picture and sustains that atmosphere throughout. I’m sure the filmmakers knew that they had to really open with a bang, because the middle section of this film is rather tepid compared to its bombastic opening. With the establishment of this world being that of high alert and desperate danger, we can now fall into a more intimate situation between the two lovers of the piece as they deal with having one of them healthy and one of the inflicted.

With the situation set up, it is now up to the actors to really hold their own to help continue the story along and they do a tremendous job in that department. Helene de Fougerolles does an amazing job as Sonia, the woman forced to carry the burden of caring for her slowly deteriorating man while at the same time dealing with the venomous forces that are closing in on them from all around. Francis Renaud plays the role of Marco and he does a commendable job with the challenge of portraying a man on the cusp of transforming into something wholly terrible. Some of his scenes are cringe worthy, as you watch this highly likable and caring person, begin to literally lose his shit and melt away, bringing forth an animalistic menace of epic gore-lusting proportions.

The interactions between the two characters are also expertly portrayed, giving us a feel for their relationship without giving too much away about their past. You can feel the dedication that they have between each other in the early portions of the film, and that is carried on through the constant actions of Sonia as she battles against the odds to keep Marco intact and coherent. Their struggle is so vivid and believable that you’ll find yourself having a hard time continuing on with the story, but the torment that they go through is crucial to the narrative and essential to Sonia’s character arch. Coming off as a pacifist and healer in the early portions of the film, she steadily begins to come into her own as the movie progresses, eventually giving her the strength to do what she must in order to survive this cruel new world.

Aside from the emotional impact of the two central characters and their compelling journey, we have some amazing portions of the film that are taken up by the antagonists of the group and that being the ravenous creatures and the dubious survivors that are only out for themselves. Sonia and Marco clash against both men and beast and the actors that portray these offensive foes are experts at what they do. Sonia especially has a run-in with a rogue group of survivors that are only interested in one thing, and that’s obtaining the keys to the ambulance and riding off into the sunset, with or without Sonia or her consent. The leader of the group is a real prick and the actor pulls off this loathsome role with flying colors, even sacrificing his girlfriend in order to buy him some time to get away. What a shithead.

The monster effects are also very good, showcasing that savage and brutal nature that they so obviously have. There are some creepy looking ones in there too, like the overweight mutant or the skinny little bugger that Sonia encounters in the basement hallway. Each mutant has their own look and personal touch, making for a varied and believable cast of ghouls. There are so many positives to this movie, that I have a hard time believing that most critics of the film can’t wrap their heads around this wonderful little production. It’s got a beautiful style, a location to die for, and an unhealthy obsession for gore and gratuitous guts. Now that’s a recipe for fun!

Mutants has all the elements that you need in order to have a complete package of genre goodness. It’s got the characters, monsters, setting, and gore that are essential to creating an explosive flick that holds no punches and shies away from nothing. The cast is wonderful in all of their various roles, with high praise to both Helene de Fougerolles and Francis Renaud for their excruciatingly painful ordeals in bringing their characters to life. The sheer violence of the picture is immense and it’s saturated in that gory mindset of kill or be killed. If you love this new wave of French horror that has recently surfaced and you can’t get enough of zombie movies and their various re-iterations, then look no further then Mutants. This flick is…...

Just play dead lady, you'd be better off.

This is one ambulance that you don't want to be on when you're hurt.

Strike a pose you cold hearted bitch!

Want to flip a coin over who gets to clean this up?

Marco the unexpected badass.

Don't do it Marco! You know you're gonna miss that ass.

I think she's going to be faking a headache tonight.

This is how you say hello in Mutantville.

Microphone check.. one two.. one two.

This guy is a real prick.

Holy Shit! Voldemort is in this movie!?!?!

Being Sonia is a real drag. Tee hee.

Looks like it's a mutant party! Howl at the moon bro!

I can smell your fear and it's delicious.

Hit me with your best shot Sonia.

It's that damn mime again doing that trapped in the box routine.

This is my BOOMSTICK!!!

So you had a bad day?

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