Despite my intentions to see two other films earlier in the week, this is the first Fantasia film that I have seen at this year's Festival.
Mutants (2009) imdb Fantasia
Directed by David Morlet
Written by David Morlet and Louis-Paul Desanges
David Morlet has also spelled his name as David Morley in the past. Pronounciation of his name stays the same.
In its very first minute, Mutants reminds us that in order to survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse, it is best not to get too attached to anyone or anything.
And of course, the problem is that it is very easy to say that, but much harder to put theory into practice. The difficulty with zombies, besides the fact that they are the tireless, ravenous living dead is that they are monsters with the faces of our loved ones. Random zombies are a problem, but one that can be solved with ruthless application of violence. From Romero's Night of the Living Dead to Robert Kirkland's Walking Dead the most difficult zombies haven't been the faceless hordes, but the zombies that we knew when they were human, our sons, daughters, parents and lovers.
The zombies being offered in Mutants are viral mutants similar to the ones in Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, but where Boyle's film gave us a transformation that was almost simultaneous with infection, Mutants offers a much crueler plight. It imagines a delay between infection to full viral mutation of about four days. The cruelty of a long and painful transformation (in this case strongly reminiscent of Cronenberg's The Fly) is that it offers the illusion that a cure is possible. In this case, the main character, Sonia, is a medical professional. (It is unclear if she is a doctor or a nurse.) Sonia's identity is vested in her belief that any disease can be cured, that her infected lover Marco can be saved and she has secrets that help convince her that a cure is possible, even likely.
This is heresy for zombie affliction afficionados, where the only true cure for infection is immediate amputation, but by flirting with heresy, Mutants asks some compelling questions. In the process, it offers an eloquent elegy to the moral quandry of euthanasia.
At what point is medical treatment crueler than death? At what point has your loved one become so consumed by disease that all that they were and all that they could be have been replaced by the disease? Where does humanity end and death begin?
Bad enough to be faced with those impossible questions, but Morlet ups the ante on Sonia by reminding us that the inevitable zombie apocalypse is not just about the zombies, it is also about the apocalypse - the end of everything. The end of easy transportation, the end of gas, the end of warmth, the end of light, the end of communication, the end of parts, the end of bullets, the end of civility, the end of love and the end of trust.
The film is not perfect. It uses a but too much of the shock-cam technique currently in vogue. There are also a couple of steps in the mutation that make little sense. Mutant zombies losing their hair makes sense, but losing their teeth? Really?
The reason that the zombie apocalypse is inevitable has everything to do with our voracious and insatiable appetite that will eventually overcome and overwhelm our ability to feed it. The zombie apocalypse is the contrast between the death of our ability to feed the hunger and the dark monstrous face of that hunger lying just behind the mask of civility.
David Morel reminds us in Mutants not just of that inevitability, but also that when the end comes it will be both painful and beautiful, and that the barrier between life and death, love and hate, civilization and chaos is not a barrier that is crossed in an instant. It is one that is crossed so slowly and the hair, the blood, the fluids and all the mess of life and living shed in the crossing are so distracting that by the time you know that you have passed the tipping point, it is too late to turn back.
(edited by Llakor on 15.7.09 2331)
"Don't Blame CANADA, Blame Yourselves!"
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