The Plague (2006)
By: Craig Villinger on January 19, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Sony (Australia). Region 2, 4, & 5 PAL. 2.30:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1, German DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1. English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Hindi, Turkish Subtitles. 84 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Hal Masonberg
Starring: James Van Der Beek, Ivana Milicevic, Brad Hunt, Joshua Close, Brittany Scobie, Dee Wallace
Screenplay: Teal Minton, Hal Masonberg
Country: USA
It should have been just another quiet morning in a quiet country town, but for one man it gets off to a bad start when he discovers his son lying comatose in bed. He rushes to the hospital, and finds that he is not the only one in town who isn't having a normal morning as the corridors are crammed with frantic parents, all nursing dribbling and unresponsive children. As panic and confusion set in, a television news report tells us that normal mornings for everyone might be a thing of the past as all around the world, every child under the ago of nine has gone into a coma. No one knows how. No one knows why.

And that's when the seizures start…

Ten years later, and we find ourselves in a world without children. None of the kiddies who slipped into comas on that harrowing day have woken up, and every child born since is already taking a prolonged nap before the doc gets a chance to slap them on the arse cheeks. Schools have become care centres. Governments around the world are banning childbirth altogether. Sounds like utopia to me, but for the human race it could mean extinction

Anyway, back in our quiet country town the hero of the piece (an unshaven and buffed up James Van Der Beek) returns home after a stretch in the big house with plans to put his life back together. Things have changed a lot since he left, but the world – or more specifically his home town - is slowly adjusting to a child free existence, but his plans to rekindle old loves and fix a front porch or two are quickly put on the back burner when, after a decade of rest, recuperation, and preparation, the children (many of whom are now in their late teens) decide to wake up and go on a killing spree. As one character puts it - "They're awake, and they're in a real bad fuckin mood"…

The Plague kicked off with an eerie opening sequence and the intriguing premise had me hooked for the first twenty minutes or so, but once the little tykes woke up and began killing off the adults the film became little more than a weak Dawn of the Dead (04)/Village of the Damned hybrid, with the attention focused on a group of survivors who spend most of the film running and hiding, and then running and hiding some more when they are discovered. Their numbers decline at a rapid rate, and nobody could accuse the filmmakers of not trying to keep up the pace, but unfortunately there is no tension throughout several "Oh God, they're outside and they're coming to get us!" sequences, and much of the killings take place off screen, so gorehounds definitely won't be getting their fix. Sure, we get shots of bodies covered in blood after the rambunctious kids have done their thing, but that's not much fun to watch. A cop-out finale that forces the viewer to draw their own conclusions using the few vague and jumbled pieces of information provided throughout the film instead of actually giving us some real and plausible answers also adds to the disappointment.

If it had successfully built on its solid opening The Plague could have been a truly memorable experience, but unfortunately, this faux zombie film runs off the rails and will only be remembered as a missed opportunity.
Video
We are given a 16:9 enhanced 2.30:1 widescreen presentation that is nothing less than spectacular. Colours are rich and vibrant, and the delightfully sharp image is never marred by grain.
Audio
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track delivers crisp and clear audio from start to finish. The rear speakers don't get a lot of use, but then again the film isn't constantly bombarding us with sound effects so they aren't needed.
Extra Features
For the audio commentary we don't get James Van Der Beek, or the director, or the screenwriter… but we do get Editor Ed Marx and actors Brad Hunt and Joshua Close chiming in with a few comments. The discussion is lively, and all three participants have a great sense of humour (Van Der Beek is the target of more than one joke), but as a fan of more technical themed commentaries this was a bit of a let down.

Eight deleted scenes clocking in at almost twenty minutes it total are also provided, but like most deleted scenes they were deleted for good reasons and aren't exactly enthralling to watch on their own, with the exception of 'Claire Kills', which is better (and more powerful) than any of the kill scenes they left in.

The usual selection of Sony trailers are also provided: The Da Vinci Code, Ultraviolet, Hollow Man 2, I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, and Population 436.
The Verdict
While the screenplay focuses primarily on the negative aspects of a world without upwardly mobile children I was asking myself another question – would the world actually be a better place without hordes of screaming kids giving us all the shits? Definitely something to ponder. While this issue is never addressed directly in the film, its sudden decline in entertainment value could in fact be a cunning metaphor. After all, when the kids are asleep, the movie is good, but as soon as they wake up everything goes downhill fast. Coincidence? Hmmmm…

Clive Barker's name is displayed prominently on the DVD slick, but don't let that fool you into thinking this is a Clive Barker movie, because it isn't. He didn't direct it, he didn't write, it isn't loosely based on some short story he scribbled twenty years ago … Barker merely served as a producer, and after seeing just how many producers were listed in the opening credits (thirteen by my count) one could assume his influence was minimal. A case of too many cooks spoiling the broth perhaps.
Movie Score
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