2018’s Patient Zero is yet another in the long series of zombie, and zombie-like, movies that are still clogging distribution channels to this day. But even completists might want to avoid this one. Figured we would just go ahead and that out of the way now.
Although the infected here aren’t technically zombies, they meet roughly ¾ of what I believe is the accepted criteria. While they can be killed, they are rage-filled monsters that convert others through their bite.
One thing about this premise I found daft is the victims never seem to be intent on converting the uninfected. So, if they are just killing people, that isn’t spreading the disease. Given that, it seems like this epidemic would pretty much kill itself off. And yet a quick overview of the infection’s spread in the opening credits shows over six billion infected.
About that virus: it is described as mad-dog disease, a super-strain of rabies. That may sound familiar to the “rage” virus in 28 Days Later, which roughly half of this picture borrows from.
The remainder is basically Day of the Dead. A large population of humans (The sole survivors? It isn’t clear) lives underground. Scientists led by Natalie Dormer have captured a large number of infected which they use to test attempts at a cure.
One of the original aspects of this film is, unfortunately, one of the stupidest. Matt Smith, my least favorite of the Doctor Who regenerations of the current era, was bitten but didn’t turn. The result of this is he is the only non-infected who can speak Zombeeze.
That’s right, he can understand and respond to the assorted grunts and gurgles of zombies. Subtitles are provided initially for one of these exchanges, but it immediately just turns into the both actors speaking English. I thought this was offensive to those who are native speakers of Zombeeze. There wasn’t even a Zombeeze-language track on the disc menu.
He and the undead chew the fat mostly when he’s interrogating them one-on-one in attempt to track down patient zero. Not exactly sure why you would need the absolute first victim to create a vaccine but, if we had needed that for one to be created for COVID, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be writing this right now, as we would all be dead.
These interrogation sessions always begin with Smith choosing a record and playing it to annoy the test subject. Why the victims are annoyed by music, and why he’s compelled to annoy them, was lost on me. I also didn’t understand why they wouldn’t just have digital music files or even compact discs. The last vestiges of humanity are surviving in a crowded subterranean bunker complex and yet they thought to bring records. I mean, I’m a vinyl enthusiast, but even I have my limits.
Another thing somebody thought to stockpile which has me confused is pregnancy tests. These are top-of-the-line models, to boot. No trying to determine if there’s one or two lines in the result, these are digital doodads that plainly state “Pregnant” when Dormer uses one. You see, she and Smith have been getting it on. The only time we see them doing this is when she is wearing a lab coat, resulting in me now having fantasies about women in lab coats.
Smith’s wife is one of the infected upon whom experiments are done. Awkward! We are subjected to a number of flashback sequences before the epidemic, where these wuvbirds create their own alphabet for aspects of their relationship, such as W for Waltz, because of dance classes they took together. She chooses T for Tears, which I don’t think bodes well for the relationship. As for myself, I chose R for Roll, which is what my eyes did during every one of these sappy scenes.
The twist in the movie occurs when Stanley Tucci is brought forward for interrogation, but he isn’t a writhing, foaming-at-the-mouth psychopath. He’s not even affected by the music. So, it’s like he’s the flipside to Smith’s character who was bitten but didn’t turn. Though he may have a calm exterior, Tucci admits he loves to kill and will continue to do so, though it isn’t anything personal. “Just because I killed my family doesn’t mean I don’t love them.” I guess he probably loved killing them, at least.
I didn’t believe a single second of this film, and not one line of dialogue. I didn’t even believe what was supposed to be a vast underground complex even extends past the tall central space that might as well be a gymnasium. Rounding out the experience is the expected bad CGI, with glowing-eyed rats that are not exactly photo-realistic.
And yet, there is one reason I’m glad I watched this movie. During the opening credits, there’s a brief still of an abandoned mall and my wife immediately said, “But that’s just any mall today.” That was the funniest thing I have heard even in most comedies recently. That’s why I love her!
Dir: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Starring Matt Smith, Natalie Dormer, Stanley Tucci
Watched on some cheap-ass blu-ray