Reviewed by Evil Andy
Starring Hélène de Fougerolles, Francis Renaud, Dida Diafat, Marie-Sohna Conde
Directed by David Morley
Mutants could have been a really good movie. Instead, it squanders an interesting original idea, opting to rip off a bunch of successful horror franchises of the last few years. And really, if you’re going to steal, can’t you at least expand your horizons beyond mainstream horror movies like Dawn of the Dead (remake of course), 28 Weeks Later, The Descent, and, god help me, Underworld?
Mutants starts off with a splash of gore, proceeds with rapid fire group breakdown of the type usually reserved for the finale of zombie films, and then settles down into an intimate drama about disease and impending death. Marco has been bitten, and his wife, Sonia, being a doctor, knows all too well what is in store for her beloved husband. While the idea of watching your loved ones turn into zombies has been explored many times throughout the years, Mutants at first seems like it’s going to focus exclusively on this dynamic. Had it done so, it could have been something special. Marco and Sonia are holed up in an incredibly cinematic mountain location, surrounded by ice and snow, and have only the knowledge that Marco is ill and will die to keep them company. Much like disease in the real world, the infection breaks relationships down even more quickly than it can ravage one’s body.
At this point, about twenty minutes in, I found myself shaking off the meaningless title, and the disjointed early part of the film, readying myself to adjust to Mutants‘ slow pace and smaller than expected scope. No problem that my expectations didn’t match what the film was giving me. Great, I thought, we’re in uncharted territory.
Maybe it’s that director David Morley didn’t know what to do once he got there, but at precisely this moment, the exact spot where the film peeks around the corner into originality, it retreats, perhaps afraid by the dark, un-commercial lengths it will have to travel to tell this story of disease and loss. From this point on there is not a single original idea in Mutants. What’s worse, the plagiarized bits that follow serve only to negate the characters and narrative created thus far, the film only feebly trying to recapture in its final few minutes what it so carelessly squandered.
Marco’s transformation is slow in the sense that it takes virtually the entire film, but rather than evoking the imperceptible physical alteration of real disease, his change is marked by violent, bilious episodes reminiscent of 28 Days Later, except at the end of each spasmodic occurrence, Marco is roughly the same as he was before. By focusing on fluids rather than feelings, the characters don’t transform along with Marco’s mutating body, rendering the wearyingly long transformation boring and, by the end, almost laughable in its repetitiveness.
Despite there being no threat of attack from either humans or zombies up to this point (they are in a remote mountain location after all), near the end of the film Mutants decides to introduce both a ragtag group of survivors and a slew of fast running zombies, shot strobe effect style a la Dawn of the Dead remake. There’s really no reason for the film to do this, except maybe to allow the film to show one final Marco transformation sequence. We know his change is complete because (the horror!) he now has four nostrils. I’m not joking. Marco’s blood-spewing, howling, shaking mutation that takes up probably a full 1/8th of the running time of the movie results in a fully clothed, greenish hued reject from The Descent.
In the end, Marco battles the other mutants to save Sonia. There are plenty of literate, legitimate occurrences of a man losing his humanity and protecting his maiden, but in Mutants it just feels like what’s being referenced is Underworld. It all just feels dumb and lazy and boring. Ultimately, the real mutation going on is from interesting premise to terrible movie.
1 1/2 out of 5
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