03rd Jan2020

‘Transit 17’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Guy Bleyaert, Zara Phythian, Lee Charles, Silvio Simac, Kimberly Stahl, Stefanie Joosten, John Flanders, Lucas Tavernier, Themo Melikidze, Bond Mgebrishvili, Kevin Van Doorslaer, Christophe VanZandycke | Written and Directed by Guy Bleyaert

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After Europe is hit with a virus which infected 60 million people, General Ratzinger (Jean-Paul Van der Velde) and his military aim to control the survivors hidden in secret outputs known as “transits.”Lead by the Commander (Silvio Simac), his “sniffers” continue to look for those who refuse to be confined while insurgents known as the Free Fighters, lead by Vanguard (Christophe VanZandycke), aim to evade and destroy this oppressive military which instead of looking for a cure, continues to kill the infected as they grow in numbers.

Meanwhile, a separate Resistance team composed of Tex (Guy Bleyaert), Eve (Zara Phythian), Brad (Lee Charles), Deena (Kimberly Stahl) and Daniel (Daniel Pala) sets out on a secret operation to find Jen (Maria Melikidze), a 15-year old girl who was infected with the virus but survived. She may be the only hope for a cure which causes The Free Fighters and the Resistance join together. They will stop at nothing till she is safe and and the cure to save mankind is discovered.

Apparently filmed in 2014, made as a follow-up to writer/director Guy Bleyaert first feature film in 2013, Transit 17 has taken an age to finally see a wide release – which in most cases doesn’t bode well. However Bleyaert’s film bucks that trend, providing a fantastic low-budget zombie action film that has as much drama as it does action, proving that you don’t just have to focus on the zombies in a zombie film (a trap which a lot of low-budget filmmakers fall into).

In terms of the zombies, whilst they are not the focus of Transit 17, when they do appear some of them look like they were inspired by the appearance of the undead in Jean Rollin’s films – very much a European sensibility to their appearance rather than a more traditional zombie look as seen in a multitude of US genre films. They’re also fast. Very fast, much faster than the zombies of 28 Days Later for example. Which is probably why they’re called “runners” in this film rather than zombies!

Speaking of European, writer/director Guy Bleyaert has brought together a wide variety of cast members, led by himself as Resistance leader Tex but really the stars of this film are Zara Phythian and Lee Charles, as Eve and Brad respectively. It’s Phythian I particular who’s the real standout, and whilst she may have appeared in numerous films since this film first entered production, this is easily her biggest and best outing as a lead. Thankfully Bleyaert gives the actress a chance to shine in numerous spots throughout the film – so much so that I left Transit 17 thinking it was about time someone cast Zara Phythian as the star of an action franchise – in the hands of the right writer and director she could easily rival the big female DTV stars of the 80s and 90s.

Only let down by over-use of CGI (in terms of gunfire and blood splatter), Transit 17 is otherwise a surprisingly great action-horror that belies its delay in release and outshines a myriad of other zombie movies that were released last year.

Transit 17 is out now on DVD from Vision Films.

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