Film Review: Patient Zero (2018)

A cast that includes Matt Smith, Stanley Tucci and Natalie Dormer can’t quite elevate this take on the zombie thriller Patient Zero 

“Just because I killed my family doesn’t mean I didn’t love them”

I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards a zombie film but I allowed the promise of an appealing cast to persuade me to give Patient Zero a try. And for better or worse, it was about as good as I thought it was going to be. Written by Mike Le and directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, it comes off as a brainless horror flick full of the rush of immediate thrills at the expense of considered storytelling.

Set in the midst of a pandemic (no, not that one) caused by a mutated strain of rabies, the vast majority of humanity has been infected and become rage-filled monsters. In an underground bunker, a group of scientists are experimenting on captured subjects to try and find a cure whilst remnants of the US military try and protect what is left of society, something made more difficult by the arrival of Stanley Tucci’s professor.  

There’s hints of something more interesting than the average here in the conceptualisation of the Infected as distinct from your usual zombie. But though less mindless, they’re not really that different to make that much of a difference. Matt Smith’s Morgan is the only human to have been bitten but not transformed and so has a unique gift of being able to communicate with them but this is ultimately of little consequence (his US accent is incredibly distracting too).

What should be a battle royale between Morgan and the professor ends up poorly plotted, flashbacks to pre-pandemic life sap what little narrative energy there is, the late descent into chaos is…well, chaotic. Natalie Dormer is relatively good fun as the lead scientist, as is her Game of Thrones co-star John Bradley and Clive Standen is super-handsome in his army fatigues. The final result may not be great but it also isn’t boring.

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