10th May2023

‘Strain 100’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Stars: Jemma Dallender, Matt Carriker, Alex Rogers, Greg Kinman, Tori Nonaka, Robert Forte Shannon III, Alexis Boozer Sterling, Julie Kline, Jennifer Jelsema, Erika Hoveland | Written by Hassan Hussein, Todd Klick | Directed by Hassan Hussein

Director Hassan Hussein opens his feature debut with a montage of society going downhill, as a new pandemic leads to a zombie uprising. This life-changing news becomes known to Jesse (Jemma Dallender) when her couple’s camping trip is cut short due to a zombie attack. After her escape leads to a car crash, Jesse tries to survive the horrific circumstances and make her way home.

A key scene occurs early on when Jesse is trapped in an overturned car. There’s little hope found for escape, as her recently deceased friend in the next seat turns into a zombie, while another zombie attacks the windscreen. This seems like the perfect circumstance for a heartbreaking and claustrophobic sequence, which makes it astounding how nothing involved works. The emotion and tension which could be generated are discarded for a shoddy and rushed action sequence, leaving the same impression as a drunken kebab; cheap, unfulfilling, and will not stay inside you for long.

Despite a rising body count, any emotional impact is sorely missing from these nonentities that viewers follow. The characters are symptoms of a larger problem regarding the difficulty of buying into this world, when audiences can be taken out of it by mere issues. The sound mixing is a regular problem, while the distracting CG work extends from blood to breaking glass. Most criminal is how dull the proceedings are, particularly with the uninspiring action scenes only raising yawns.

As the 84-minute runtime continues, what could have been a bog-standard zombie film only grows more insulting. Despite the original 2020 release date being pushed back due to COVID-19, Strain 100 feels reactionary to the pandemic. This could speak to how evergreen certain topics are, although the uneasy feeling arrives following a revelation that a vaccine caused the end of the world, and appears aimed towards pleasing an anti-vaxxer audience.

There is an odd pacing which sees many diversions taken, each amounting to very little. The worst offender comes when gun-fetishist influencers barge into the third act, as though they are taking the film hostage to promote their channels. After a scene which resembles a YouTube video explaining the virtues of different guns, Hussein and co-writer Todd Klick suddenly remember their film’s plot before delivering a sudden ending. That is when an insulting coda is tacked onto the end, wrapping up the story with the grace of a reversing dump truck.

The horror genre is full of creative and influential films born from low budgets, where the filmmakers effectively use the tight circumstances to their benefit. This first-time filmmaker may have a small budget, yet the creativity is unfortunately missing here. Regardless of how a film turns out, a critic strives to find something worth praising no matter how difficult it may seem, and this reviewer has found something to praise about Strain 100; it ended.


Strain 100 is out now on digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.


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