Strain 100 (2020) Review
In 1978 George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and a horde of Italian imitations kicked off a flood of zombie films. In 2004 Zack Snyder and James Gunn rebooted Dawn and launched a second wave of films. That wave is still producing occasional, weak ripples such as Strain 100.
Vaccine C100 was supposed to eliminate the flu. Instead, a month later, people are reporting intense flu-like symptoms in record numbers. Jesse (Jemma Dallender, Contract to Kill, I Spit on Your Grave 2) has other problems though. She was camping with her boyfriend when zombies showed up and ripped out his throat.
Barely escaping she meets Emma (Alexis Boozer Sterling, Hide in the Light) who is part of a group of survivors holed up in a diner owned by Roy (John Manfredi, Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except). When that proves to be less safe than they thought, the survivors are forced to take their chances, fleeing through a countryside infested by the living dead.
I’m not sure exactly when Strain 100 was shot, but the first trailer popped up in early 2018 and there’s behind-the-scenes footage from the summer of 2017. Whenever it was filmed, it’s had the good luck to be pretty much unreleasable for one reason or another until now. Why do I say that’s good luck?
Because at any other time it probably wouldn’t have gotten noticed. Now between its vaccine based zombie apocalypse and last act appearances from John Hickok of the YouTube firearm channel Hickok45 and Matt Carriker from Demolition Ranch as well as Instagram influencers/gun fetishists Tori Nonaka and Alex Zedra (listed as Alex Rogers on IMDB for some reason), it’s trendy and should have a ready-made audience.
The problem is that Strain 100 is a very uneven film, one that, even at its best, never rises above average quality. First-time director Hassan Hussein and contributing writer Todd Klick (Followed) have written a very by the numbers script. We follow Jesse from place to place, she runs into zombies who kill her companions, and then it’s off to the next place to repeat the process.
For variety, we also get a few dangerous living humans, most notably John C. Forman (Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge, Toxicity) in a small but effectively creepy role. But it’s all formulaic to the point it drains the impact out of what should be a pair of emotionally wrenching scenes. The exception to that is, as you might guess, the celebrity cameos fest in the third act, and that’s just dull.
Effects wise, the film is nothing special. There are a few good zombie makeups and a few good gore scenes. But there’s way too many extremely poorly done scenes of CGI gunshots and blood. Poor to the point, in one scene it looks like the blood is spurting through the hand the victim has over the wound. As bad as that is, though, it’s still better than the CGI in the epilogue tacked on after the film’s non-ending.
From a technical standpoint, Strain 100 has some issues as well, especially with the sound. Characters in the same scenes frequently sound like they were recorded at different volumes. There are also individual shots within scenes that look like they were filmed at different times of day and just cut together without any attempt to fix the problem. Something that probably helped keep the film on the shelf.
Horror fans will probably be unimpressed. But it should find an audience among those wanting something to watch after a long day down at the statehouse, waving their guns and demanding freedom from masks and vaccines.