Dir: Benjamin Roberds
Starring: David Chandler, Eva Boehnke, Maxwell Moody
Plot: A Plague So Pleasant starts off with Clay (Chandler) and Todd (Moody) discussing over breakfast about how Todd would like to ask out Clay’s sister Mia. Clay thinks this is a great idea, Mia has been down recently and could use the company. Having given his blessing, Clay leaves for work and as he leaves he faces up against a group of zombies. Clay is living in a post-zombie-apocalypse world.
It turns out that the zombies don’t attack unless provoked and society has continued as usual. It’s back to the grind. However when Mia rejects Todd’s advances because she still loves her zombie ex-boyfriend, Clay takes action. His actions result in another violent zombie outbreak. Can Clay stop the zombies and get his sister and friend together?
As soon as the film begins it’s made the notable choice of being in black and white. It’s a stylistic choice that can’t help but make the audience think of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead as soon as the zombies show up. It also reminded me of Kevin Smith’s Clerks when it got to Clay’s mundane day at work. It’s an interesting combination. Both of those films were the first features of both directors, low budget but distinctive. This is also Benjamin Roberds’ directorial début and he handles it well.
The biggest strength of this film is that it’s not afraid to try and look big. The camera movements and angles are all very professional and make A Plague So Pleasant very compelling to watch. The make up effects are also very well done, it’s a film that uses the strength of it’s practical effects and limits the use of some of the digital effects that are good but not quite so impressive.
The black and white style is only part of the films visual look and actually ties in with the zombie lore of this movie. When things go wrong and the zombies get violent, the film goes full colour. The passive zombie-mode of the black and white footage has fade out and become something else entirely. The zombies run and pounce on anyone unfortunate enough to be living. It’s definitely taking the rules of the zombie movie and putting a different spin on it.
The weakness of A Plague So Pleasant is that I felt that it starts off with a more comedic tone but loses that pretty quickly and much of the film’s charm with it. The humour is very dry, with jokes about Todd remaining cool and calm in the wreckage of his room, or zombies having a taste for oats, but it’s welcome humour. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and the rest of the film follows Clay as he aimlessly runs for his life. Clay seems to have little plans when things go wrong and the excitement of being chased doesn’t hold as much interest after twenty minutes. Also when it gets to the conclusion of the film, it doesn’t feel like anything Clay did for the final third of the film had much to do to impact the film’s ending.
A Plague So Pleasant has interesting ideas but maybe not enough to stretch out to feature length. It definitely feels like it could have been a decent short. The zombie sub-genre needs more directors who want to twist it and shape it into something new and I feel like this film started off wanting to do just that, but didn’t quite hit the mark.