Pandemic is a first person perspective infection horror blending 28 Days Later with Call of Duty. If that last sentence causes sudden revolution, nausea and panic don’t worry you are not infected with virus from the movie you are just having a perfectly normal reaction to the increasing number of horror films that are looking to gaming for inspiration and an audience.
It’s inevitable really as after the rise of found footage and faux documentary the genre needed a new direction and this first person perspective is seemingly the route that many have picked.
Perhaps it’s a natural evolution of the cinematic form, perhaps it’s a desperate attempt to drag people away from playing online video games at home, perhaps it’s a cynical marketing gimmick but whatever the reason more and more movies are using this format from hilariously terrible Day of the Mummy to action epic Hardcore Henry to the brilliant biblical shocker JeruZalem.
Like all visual trends and innovations in cinema story telling when watching you must look past the tricks and attention grabbing devices to see if underneath it all there is a solid and engaging story and luckily with Pandemic there is, all be it not the most original one.
Star Trek’s Rachel Nichols plays Lauren a doctor who has moved from New York to Los Angeles both of which are overrun by infected humans after an apocalyptic plague has ravaged the world and all its inhabitants.
Working from a shady military facility she is sent out with a small team including navigator Denise (Gone Girl’s Missi Pyle), ex-con driver Wheeler (Game of Thrones Alfie Allen) and armed protection in the form of Gunner (8 Mile’s Mekhi Phifer) to look for uninfected survivors however unbeknownst to the others Lauren has her own agenda to find her husband and daughter whatever the cost to her colleges.
Although the characters and the set up may seem extremely stereotypical there is much more depth to Pandemic than first appears and this is mostly thanks to the script and the four excellent leads who transform each of the basic stereotypes they play into well rounded, interesting and likable three dimensional human beings.
The familiarity of the set up allows Pandemic to jump straight in to the action rather than spending too much time explaining the background to the infection Armageddon except that is to show us the five stages of the disease which turns people from having a cold into flesh munching rage zombies.
The first person perspective generally works well and gives a visceral feel to the film never more so than in the scene where we see someone being eaten alive from a POV shot. The action is chaotic and messy which can be frustrating but actually ups the tension and fear heightening the feel of the anarchic world that we and everyone else has been plunged into.
At its core Pandemic like many other post-apocalyptic horrors is about survival but here it highlights how selfish that instinct can be. In this tale the diseased population may have lost their humanity but so too have the uninfected and each characters desperation to find their loved ones or stay alive at any cost is ultimately more destructive than the outbreak itself.
Not the most creative or innovative horror around in its set up the movie uses the first person perspective well to tell a story that has much more to it than many other films in the same genre and this plus the great acting makes Pandemic one to catch.