Apr 28, 2022
Matt Blakey, Lee Barklam, Nadine Powell
Matt Blakey, Jennifer Bulcock, Daniel Bowker, Samantha Peters
Isaac (Matt Blakely) has spent the last few years of his life devoted to developing a new drug that has the power to change the world, and to his, and his neglected partner Jane’s (Jennifer Bulcock), relief it appears as though he has made a breakthrough. Despite this Isaac grows impatient and frustrated as his progress is stunted by his employer, which in turn leads the disheartened Jane to trial the risky new concoction with disastrous consequences.
The Scourge is a return to the familiar lab created zombie film – a new chemical is ingested by an individual who proceeds to die and is then reanimated in a feral, instinctual state with an all-consuming hunger for flesh. It is also a return to the typical horror convention in which a male comes to terms with his own actions, in this case the lack of effort he puts into his relationship, through the trauma and absence of his female partner as she is possessed or overcome, Jane is no longer herself as she is zombified. Despite having a running time of forty-three minutes this short, whilst competent, does little to explore any new territory, experiment with any of the genre conventions or throw up any challenging questions and disappointingly plays it conservatively straight.
When it comes to the moment to moment dialogue the script feels overstuffed. Outside of the strong wordless prologue there is wall to wall dialogue. Even at crucial emotional beats a voiceover will chime in to overexplain everything that can be explicitly seen or deduced from the images onscreen.
On a more positive note, Jennifer Bulcock and the make-up department do a great job of creating the post-human Jane. Her performance truly sells the animalistic qualities of what is now recognised as the modern zombie.
The Scourge feels like a generalisation of a horror film. Its biggest flaw is its lack of identity. It lacks the injection of individualism, the unique input of the filmmakers. Hopefully this is laying the groundwork for more daring work to come from them.