We just reviewed Strain 100, a pandemic zombie film that was shot in 2017 but managed to have an eerie similarity to current events. COVID-21: Lethal Virus on the other hand is a newly made attempt to cash in on the current pandemic, or the one waiting to happen, depending on your point of view.
Global warming has begun to unfreeze the polar regions. This has not only caused the oceans to rise, it’s released an ancient strain of rabies dubbed COVID-21 for reasons that probably have to do with marketing. As martial law is being declared Scott (Christian Stamm, Shiver, Vampyres) ventures out to stock up on supplies only to find the mall overrun with ravenous zombies.
Meanwhile Dr. Allyson (Loretta Hope) is being transported through the forest by a squad of heavily armed soldiers. She may have the cure for COVID-21. They make the mistake of stopping to help a survivor only to be overrun by a seemingly endless horde of zombies who were apparently off for a weekend of camping. She escapes while most of her protectors become dinner.
Needless to say, the doctor meets up with Scott who agrees to help her get to her destination. Two surviving soldiers (Tomás Paredes, Lee Partridge) follow along trying to catch up with them
A virulent strain of rabies creating an outbreak of 28 Days Later style rage zombies certainly isn’t a bad place to start for a film like COVID-21: Lethal Virus. And the idea of it being released by global warming is a bit different from the usual lab accident or misplaced bioweapon. And somewhat more plausible too.
Unfortunately COVID-21: Lethal Virus wastes that potential right from the start. The scenes where the zombies chase Scott through the mall look like something from a bad found footage film as the camera bounces around constantly and frequently ends up filming the ceiling. Which is ironic as I’d picked this over Hacksaw because it was found footage and I didn’t want a headache.
Also both those scenes and those of the military in the forest are extremely dark. Dark to the point of being hard to make out what’s going on. That may have been intentional to help hide the lousy makeup on most of the zombies and general lack of gore when they attack someone. The lighting does get better later in the film, however the shaky cam comes back any time there’s an action scene.
Technical issues are just part of the problem however. For almost all of the film there’s only two characters on screen, Scott and Allyson. Scott is supposed to be a tough loner type. He comes off as an obnoxious jerk with anger management issues who’s a loner because nobody wants to be around him. Allyson is just whiny and annoying. Listening to these two for the better part of ninety minutes was a test of my patience.
I still haven’t gotten to the snowstorm that comes out of nowhere and melts away just as fast without leaving a trace. Or how Allyson manages to run 15 kilometers in a matter of minutes. And then there’s the absolutely ridiculous twist we get towards the end. Director Daniel Hernández Torrado and his three co-writers drop a clue about halfway through that things aren’t what they seem. I was hoping whatever was going on would be interesting enough to save the last half of COVID-21.Instead it’s something that redefines improbable. Even more improbable than the fact it took four people to write this mess.
COVID-21: Lethal Virus is available in the UK from Kaleidoscope Film Distribution with other countries to follow.