Although we named this French zombie film in our Lucky 13: Best of 2010 list, we haven’t published a proper review yet. This is unacceptable. Please allow us to correct this error. Here’s the official summary:
In a world devastated by a pandemic virus that turns human beings into primitive and bloodthirsty creatures, Marco and Sonia set off to find a secret base to escape from the ‘mutants’. When the latter attack them, Marco is infected. Little by little, he undergoes the same changes. Sonia, who is expecting a baby, is then forced to fight her worst enemy, the man she loves.
Mutants, starring Hélène de Fougerolles and Francis Renaud, is David Morlet’s version of the classic zombie outbreak. Brain-eating corpses are big these days and it takes something special to get noticed in the shambling crowd. Does Mutants have it? We think so.
In a refreshing move, Mutants starts in the middle of the action with a fast-spreading zombie apocalypse already underway. The characters are introduced with an “explosive” opening sequence of hectic violence and splatter. I love to see an apocalypse scenario slowly unfold, but we all know the tropes. It’s a nice change to skip the origin and take the focus elsewhere. To focus on mortality and relationships.
It’s no spoiler to reveal the protagonist’s lover is infected by the “mutants” early on. Once infected, the film slows down and he begins a long and excruciating transformation/degeneration into a monster. The two lovers know the end is near and fear the dangers that follow as he slowly turns. Instead of action, it’s an intimate and tragic love story that remains engaging despite its quieter pace. Sure, the “slow turn” and “protecting the infected” concepts have both been done before, but we think this approach is unique. When do you keep fighting for the one you love and when do you say goodbye and let go?
It’s a shame that Mutants turns into a more standard zombie film in the last third when some self-serving survivors show up and add a traditional group dynamic. It leads to a more predictable conclusion to an otherwise unconventional film, but that doesn’t undo the beauty and sadness experienced earlier.
StayFrosty: Intimate. Interesting that we are dropped into the world with no preamble and must accept the world as it comes to us. Makes you think more. The slow change is tense. The second half doesn’t work as well as the buildup in the first half (more traditional zombie tropes).
Crowbait has nothing further to add, but he endorses this review.
Would we Recommend?
StayFrosty: I would recommend this to zombie film lovers and also to people who enjoy zombie flicks but are getting a little tired of the same old movie over and over.
Jenny Dreadful: Agreed. A nice change of pace for zombie fans and fans of French horror. If you’re specifically looking for fast-paced gore and zombie madness, you’ll find a few very exciting moments, but you’d probably be better off looking elsewhere. Some folks might also be annoyed by some foolish character decisions, but I’m pretty forgiving if it serves the plot well.
Does it Pass the Bechdel Test?
There is more than one named female character and they do speak, but the conversations may have been exclusively about men. Unfortunately, we’d have to re-watch to determine this one. If it’s a pass, it’s not overwhelming.