Virus: 32 is the latest in the seemingly neverending stream of zombie, or zombie adjacent, films that have come our way since George Romero rebooted the genre with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. This time it’s a plague of the kind of viral zombies such as we’ve seen in everything from 28 Day Later to Strain 100 and The Sadness being unleashed on Uruguay’s capital city of Montevideo by director Gustavo Hernández (The Silent House, You Shall Not Sleep) and writer Juma Fodde (You Shall Not Sleep).
Iris (Paula Silva, In the Quarry) works as a security guard at an athletic facility. She’s estranged from her husband Javi (Franco Rilla) and has a young daughter Tata (Pilar Garcia) whom the opening dialogue suggests she rarely sees. And now he’s dropping her off and Iris forgot she agreed to take her, probably due to the booze bottles and bongs all over the apartment, and picked up an extra shift at work.
With no other choice, she brings the girl with her, walking to the club, all but oblivious to the growing chaos around them. It’s not until after night has fallen and the infection has reached epidemic proportions that she realizes something is wrong. Now she has to find her daughter in the dark and zombie-infested building and escape. Something complicated by the presence of Louis (Daniel Hendler, Phase 7, The Sleepwalkers) who will do anything to get help for his pregnant, and infected, wife (Malena Sanchez, Luciferina, Damaged).
Early in Virus: 32 Hernández gives us a drone’s eye view of the city, allowing us to see the a scattering of chases, car crashes, emergency vehicles and an ominous plume of smoke in the distance. And, as if to offset all of that, a woman calming hanging her washing out to dry. It’s an impressive, and economical, way to set the stage for what is to come.
Unfortunately after that, Virus: 32 settles into much more familiar territory as the characters run and hide through a large, dark building. The twist that gives the film it’s name, the zombies pause for 32 seconds after an attack isn’t particularly uncommon. Resting zombies have previously turned up in the likes of Army of the Dead, the current season of The Walking Dead, and the underrated Zone of the Dead. And he infected pregnant woman almost immeadiatly recalls Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead reboot.
What Virus: 32 does have going for it is on of the best large dark buildings I’ve seen in a while. Run down, and rotting away, you sense Iris’s job is more to prevent the local crackheads from squatting in it rather than preventing thefts. It’s the kind of setting one would expect to be haunted, so zombies aren’t that much of a stretch. Hernández makes the most of this location, with its claustraphobic corridors and stairway tht open into large dark locker rooms and exercise areas to build up the suspense and set up jump scares, both of which he does quite efficiently.
Virus: 32 also benefits from a solid performance from Paula Silva. Iris initially comes off as a very unsympathetic character. We’re not told what caused the rift with her family and her change from wife and mother to the day drinking trainwreck we see at the film’s beginning until late in the film. We are however given a few hints and Silva does a good job of using them to soften the character and make us care about her as well as her daughter.
Virus: 32 will premiere exclusively on Shudder on April 21st in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. While it is a very familiar story, Virus: 32 does tell it quite well and manages to deliver a couple of harrowing sequences along the way. It’s a solid film and will help tide subscribers over until The Sadness arrives in May. And if you still need more zombies, FilmTagger has that covered.