23rd Apr2018

‘American Virus’ Short Film Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Adrian Baez, Kathryn Eastwood, Chad Meisenheimer, Shane Ryan, Tommie Vegas | Written by Shane Ryan, Kathryn Eastwood | Directed by Shane Ryan

american-virus

Short film American Virus is part of the horror anthology Virus of the Dead. An anthology that is a long time in the making, beginning production over three years ago and now with a set release date over a year away (18th May 2019) – which means, hopefully, it will at least start to be seen by people.

At only five minutes long, American Virus is a slightly strange mix of frantic hand-held camera footage, fake news reports, people directly looking at and talking into a camera and random but relevant stock footage. Flipping between both black and white and colour on the screen. It’s not actually as bizarre as it sounds written down and it actually all gels together surprisingly well. Feeling like a hectic and exciting five minutes of film that you could probably watch again immediately after finishing it. Partly because it all goes by so quickly in a bit of a blur that you might think you missed something.

What we see are a group of people injecting strangers with some kind of virus that very quickly turns them into zombies. Or something similar at least, as when they are aware of themselves again they are immediately out for blood. This small group though don’t take long to implode themselves and the climax to the short brings plenty of gore. It might be because of the very shaky and frantic camera work but there’s some highly impressive looking make-up effects here. The wounds, that are covered in blood, look fantastic and are a good way to end the movie.

The lead actress, Kathryn Eastwood – who also co-wrote the short – is the highlight of the acting performances. Acting the ‘crazy’ lunatic woman isn’t as easy as some might think and things can soon become like a second rate Harley Quinn. I’ve actually seen this happen very recently but thankfully here the actress reels it in a bit and the character doesn’t come across like a carbon copy of that DC villain. It feels just a little bit more natural and less comical.

It’s easy to see how this could fit nicely in an anthology horror movie. Packed in alongside other shorts that show how the world is being taken over by a victims of the virus, American Virus could obviously work very well. As a standalone short that might become a a full feature film, it’s actually something that could work too. Whether the characters, especially the leading lady, might become a bit tiresome after more than five minutes, I’m not entirely sure. But this is definitely an idea that would throw in some originality to the zombie genre. Something that is always needed.

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