More noise than signal

Phase 7

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

Coco (Daniel Hendler) and his heavily pregnant wife Pipi (Jazmin Stuart) are a young couple are caught rather by surprise when a global pandemic pops up out of nowhere. After reports of an instance of the unspecified virus in their building, the government authorities quarantine their building. This occurs in the early stages of what goes on to be a world-changing event, and it soon becomes obvious that the promised help of them there government authorities isn’t going to be arriving.

This fits in surprisingly well with the worldview of their neighbour Horacio (Yayo Guridi), who as we discover has long been preparing for the day that the Illuminati, or the Bilderberg Group, or Fox Mulder, or Whoever, unleash their scheme for enabling a New World Order. So, then, as mad as a particularly deranged hatter, but useful in terms of being a guy to call on if you need access to a biohazard suit and enough weaponry to arm a small nation.

As the quarantine drags on, supplies run low and those remaining in the building see every errant cough as a sure sign of a deadly infection that would put the others at risk.

The main thrust of the conflict in Phase 7 stems from two of the residents deciding that it would be for the best if they remove the elderly Zanutto (Federico Luppi) from his apartment, as the sound of the coughing is surely an indication of impending death. Besides, they’re running out of food.

Coco and Horacio want no part of this, but are dragged into the conflict anyway when Zanutto puts paid to the other guy’s plans, and heads, at the end of a double barrelled shotgun, and decides that the best course of action is to take no prisoners and leave no witnesses. This turns the apartment block into a rather deadly game of hide and seek, which may perhaps run a little short on tension but remains hugely enjoyable throughout.

The closed room nature of quarantine either by government or natural seclusion has long provided fertile grounds for the horror / thriller genres, as seen in movies like Rec and The Thing. While Phase 7 is, at least nominally, a member of the horror genre that’s almost incidental to the action at hand.

Hendler gives a tremendously likeable performance as the mild mannered, somewhat immature urbanite who’s forced to rapidly undertake a learn as you go, crash course in alpha male pack protection. Guridi’s Horacio might have a few zany beliefs, but he’s also an entertaining curmudgeon. It’s wisely playing up the comic elements of the situation, while maintaining a respect for the genre that doesn’t descend into parody.

If you’re going to be picky, Phase 7 isn’t really doing a great deal new, per se. However, it’s delivering a vastly enjoyable take on the genre that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is all the better for it. Well worth a look.

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