2014 / Director. Kosta Ouzas & Nick Kozakis.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I went into PLAGUE completely unaware. I knew its title from a film festival programme and I had heard mention of it amongst festival-goers. To be honest with you I felt like I was dropping the ball considering that I didn't even know that it was an Australian film. Sometimes films just slip past ya. And so the film began and I was immediately struck by its imagery. It looked to be a highly stylised film and the premise had my attention from the get go. Humanity has been eradicated by an unknown plague with only a handful of survivors left. Fleeing to remote areas the last healthy humans seek refuge wherever they can in a desperate attempt to avoid the zombie-like humans who fell victim to the infection. The premise isn't anything new but the rural Australian landscape promises a fresh new angle on an already exhausted formula. The film follows a handful of people taking shelter in an old sheep shed. The focus of the story lies on three people who not only struggle to survive the plague but also come face to face with the effects of isolation and desperation. It all sounds well and good and the first 20 minutes of the film are totally immersive. The characters and their predicament are portrayed beautifully and the use of landscape to emphasise their distress is brilliantly done. The problem is that as soon as the mood of the film shifts with the introduction of a new character the film slows down and becomes a long, meandering and drawn out drama that attempts to be psychological and misses its mark. It doesn't know whether to be a genre film or an art film and the collision of the two concepts fizzles without so much as a spark and comes across as pretentious. It does look amazing, though, and the few sudden spurts of horror are really well done... good all round performances, stunning cinematography and well conceived moments of horror... but an otherwise lacklustre script with an underwhelming pay off and little to celebrate. If you've got the patience, check it out and decide for yourself... once is enough for me.