Directors Daniel de la Vega and Pablo Parés post-apocalyptic Argentinian zombie movie Soy tóxico aka I am Toxic brings a lot more to the genre than first meets the eye as we open on a wasteland littered with dead bodies and a stranger stirring amongst them.
Like The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later and so many more before the main character comes to without any memories of what has happened or why he is alone. So far so similar but when a stranger saves him from the flesh eating undead, known here as “dry ones”, taking him back to his camp where he lives with two men and a mute woman the film changes up.
Dog as they dub him is already infected and the fucked up foursome take the opportunity to imprison and torture him for their own sick amusement biding the time till he becomes another one of the undead.
The wild men are without mercy however the mute girl (Fini Bocchino) has more mysterious intentions assisting Dog’s escape for reasons unknown. Thus begins a chase across the wasteland as the deranged survivors attempt to recapture the man with no past and Dog desperately tries to remember what happened to him.
While Dog is pursued, punished, escapes and is pursued again flashbacks offer glimpses into his past and slowly we understand not only what happened but how the other players are all involved.
Set in 2101 the first twist on this overdone genre comes when we see huge plans flying over the barren yet epic landscape ettisoning bodies out of their cargo bays. We learn there is a bacteriological war raging in the Northern hemisphere and the infected bodies are being dumped from the sky onto the South of the Latin American continent.
Although blending and borrowing from the usual sources such as Mad Max and the Wild West genre the overall design of I Am Toxic stands out due in part to the excellent costume design from Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano the directors of one of last year’s FrightFest favourite’s Crystal Eyes.
Another innovation is the zombie’s themselves who seem more modelled on the earthy creatures of Lucio Fulci Zombie than the usual bloody and decaying model we see in every other movie and TV show.
Echoing their nickname the “dries” share as much in common with the drought ridden soil as they do with the surviving populace demonstrating perhaps the unnatural rebellion of the planet against the ragging wars as if Mother Nature herself spawned them as a lesson to us all.
Violent and downbeat the dystopian future is bleak and there seems little hope for human beings when held up against the depraved actions of the gang of survivors. Raping, beating, yelling and fighting seem all there is left to do and ironically the most moral character of the whole film is slowly losing his humanity and transforming into one of the undead.
Well made and emotionally engaging I Am Toxic proves there is life left in the zombie apocalypse genre yet as long as you attempt however small to innovate.