Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Project Terrible: Mutants (2009)

Mutants is a hard one to review, especially for Project Terrible (this pick comes from Mr. Project Terrible Host himself, creator of Mondo Bizarro). The movie for the most part is actually really good. However, the ending reveals that the whole is not the sum of its parts in this case; for while the parts are great, the whole is a major letdown.

The mutantatious plot: The typical unnamed virus has swept the nation, turning humans into mutated, rage-aholic flesh-eaters. We meet up with Sonia and Marco, traveling in an ambulance to get to the requisite "safe zone" at the NOAH army base. But they are slowed down when Marco gets infected, and the two hole up in an abandoned building.

So, for most of the movie I was quite confused. I was wondering why Mondo picked this for Project Terrible and thought about asking him to give me another movie because Mutants, on first glance, is certainly not terrible at all. It wasn't until the end, and all was said and done, that I got really angry with the movie. But we'll get to that later. Let's start with the positive aspects.

The main thing I really liked about the movie was the special effects work on the mutants. Mutants is a zombie-slash-infection movie and, as Mondo told me, is "like 28 Days Later but in France." Some fans would rather call 28 Days Later an "infection" movie as opposed to a zombie movie because the villains are not dead, and therefore not true zombies. I say bullshit. Medically based infection or not, I call any kind of rage-aholic flesh-eater a zombie. Anyway. Like I was saying about the effects, these mutants look great. The very features of their faces change until they are skeletal, balding, snake-like heads with horrible teeth. The mutants are also kind of slimy and veiny with almost see-through pale skin. Quite gross, and definitely not something I'd ever want to turn into.

I also enjoyed the earlier scenes with Marco and Sonia as Marco slowly gets sicker and sicker and Sonia tries to keep it together. Marco starts to deteriorate like a cancer patient; he loses patches of hair and even pees blood in one gross scene. It was the concentration on his change that I liked about this part because that is something not usually explored in other zombie horror films. The change into a zombie is usually quick, followed by a loved one torturously putting the infected person out of their misery, but knowing it's the right thing to do. Not so here. Sonia knows what's going to happen to Marco - and therefore what's going to happen to her since he will probably attack her - but she cares for him like any other sick person, keeping him alive in the hope of figuring out how to turn him back.

That's about where my love for the movie stops...

...because for one thing, Mutants is not without its zombie movie cliches. Before I even saw the movie, I was thinking, Okay there's going to be backstabbing, the aforementioned requisite "safe zone" army base, and probably a group of gun-toting rape-and-pillaging humans who are enjoying the zombie apocalypse a little too much. Think of any zombie movie - most of them have at least one if not all of those things and Mutants sadly turned out to be no exception. The rape-and-pillaging humans are led by a guy named Frank and his crazy girlfriend. Frank answers Sonia's radio call for help and shows up only to mess with her and steal the ambulance she and Marco arrived in. Thankfully, their scenes aren't all that involved because I really didn't like those people.

What mostly hurts this otherwise fairly good zombie flick is the extremely thin and un-exciting plot. Frankly, NOTHING happens, and the focus of the movie keeps shifting like it never knows where it wants to go and therefore ends up going nowhere. So many different scenarios here are set up and never followed through. It just ends. And as the credits rolled, all I could think was that while the film was well made and all, there was no point to it.

After Marco starts showing signs of his infection, we find out that Sonia had been bitten by one of the mutants several weeks ago and never turned into one of them. She is immune. With her medical background, she tries to cure Marco by transfusing his blood with hers - but that doesn't work and she locks him in a cage in one of the tunnels underneath the building. So then I thought she was keeping him around until the army guys get there and they can take them both back to the base and use Sonia's immunity to try to find a cure for Marco and the rest of the mutants. But this doesn't happen in the least! The rape-and-pillaging group shows up, causes some problems, and when the building gets surrounded by the infected, they all try to fight them off but end up dying. Sonia escapes through a little tunnel but she ends up being trapped in this fenced in area outside, Mutant Marco follows her and Sonia has to kill him. And just as you'd except, that's when the army guys show up - when their help in fighting the mutants is no longer needed. Way to be, guys.

But that's it, y'all! Do you see what I mean when I say that NOTHING HAPPENS in this movie? Yes there's all the action that I just described but the rub is that aside from some earlier sequences, I have already seen everything that happens in Mutants in other movies. It's the classic zombie apocalypse tale and there is nothing new here. There COULD have been something new if the storyline of Sonia's immunity and possible cure for the infection was explored but that important plot element was tossed aside. Basically, the entirety of Mutants should have only been about the first 20 minutes of the movie. Then the story should have progressed further to the army base, maybe, or even something happy like Sonia curing Marco and putting a stop to the infection entirely, I don't care. The emotion at the beginning and the relationship of Sonia and Marco is nice but even that falls flat after Marco becomes almost full mutant and has to be locked up.

Maybe I just didn't "get" the movie or I'm focusing too much on what's not there as opposed to what is there, but I didn't think Mutants was all that great. I still say it's kinda good because there is definite technical achievement (the cinematography was really quite pretty) but the absence of any real plot or overall point to the movie makes this one kind of a dud for me.


  1. Well, I'm glad that I saved myself the time of watching that movie.

    If you wanted something really bad, apparently you should have picked 'The Horde.'

    As for why I gave it to you, I was trying to be nice. Your response- giving me 'Tricked Out Trannies With Knives.' Yeah, I won't be nice next time.

  2. :( I sorry, buddy. But hey, I didn't get off completely easy in this round - just wait for my review of Zombie Nation. Trannies with Knives is probably gonna look like Gone with the Wind compared to that pile of dung.

  3. I'm just trying to picture a zombie film with a happy ending, and everything I think off comes off as an absurd comedy! Haha!

    And as for Zom-bi-Na-tion, I wish that I wasn't such a merciful blogger, even with stuff as bad as Zombie Nation, action films where nothing happens and Return of the Living Dead part 8, I'm still a pretty merciful critic.
    (Also, did you know that David Hess was in Zombie Nation? If you didn't, yes, I mean THAT David Hess!)

  4. Saw this last year and impressed me a quite lot. Not a perfect but definitely a tense and original new take on the zombie genre.

    aw c'mon, The Horde is awesome!

  5. You'll have to forgive me, but I saw 'The Horde' get itself torn a new asshole in a video. It's here: http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/teamt/phelous/29655-la-horde

    After that, I can't imagine trying to sit through it.

    As far as 'Zombie Nation' goes, I've heard bad things. I'd feel for you, if I weren't doing Uli Lommel myself.

  6. @TimTE01
    Phelous is a comedic reviewer. Whether he reviews good movies or bad ones, he still keeps his sarcastic, negative persona.

  7. Negative review or none, I feel an urge now to see this movie....
    I dunno. I guess I just like its title.

    Excellent, thorough, analysis -- as always.

  8. GOOD MOVIE, Looses the plot at end but still better that most zombie movies , needed more two short to have any one main story