Monday, September 22, 2008

Mulberry Street: 3 out of 5 stars

Rat zombies take control of NYC. Sure, why not?, September 22, 2008

For the second year in a row we have been graced with the After Dark Horrofest. Well saying "graced" my be a bit overboard considering almost every film developed under this festival has been a disaster to sub par at best. We love the horror genre and encourage the whole indi film movement but there has to be some substence to what we're watching or why bother? Short on budget doesn't mean it has to suck. All it means is you have to rely less on killer effects and dish up a good story with some realistic chills. Mulbery Street actually succeeds in this way to an extent. Not so much scary but the concept definately has a chill factor. Who wouldn't get scared by being preyed upon by rat zombies in a tenament home?

Our story takes place in a New York City tenament home where 6 seperate residents are dealing with the fact that their complex will be demolished due to an urban renewal. One great aspect of the film is the believability of these characters. It's not a bunch of young kids aimlessly running around getting picked off as in the typical horror flicks of today. It's actual real people living their everyday lives. The main character is a former boxer and his close friend who are awaiting the boxers daughters return from Iraq. Then there are a couple of guys who live on the upper floor, one being an elderly man who needs an oxygen tank to survive, and a single mother and her son. So you start to actually care for the characters instead of routing for them to vanish. As they all go about their day the super is trying to get the water to work in the boiler room. While working he's bitten on the arm by a rat. Within minutes he begins to have strange symptoms. He goes upstairs to rest and starts to see hair growing on his ears.

The more time that goes by the worse he starts getting and it becomes obvious to everyone that something strange is going on. The news continues to report rat attacks throughout the city. Roughly every five minutes new breaking news appears stating the rat attacks are becoming so frequent they must suspend all subway service and want everyone to remain inside. What they don't know is that these rats are passing some strange virus around which are turning the infected into rat like zombie creatures. It's a lot like 28 Days Later but with a different storyline. From here on out you follow each tenant as they work together to save themselves from the rat zombies. It does become intense at times and overall is an enjoyable and creepy film. The use of atmosphere is key in this one. They really did a great job driving home the chills in that way. The camera lighting is very dim and you get a very claustrophobic feeling while inside the cramped apartments.

Overall the film was good with some flaws. But why be so cridical on an independent film. Considering the small budget they did a great job. The focus on atmosphere was awesome and the acting was really good. A couple cool facts about Mulberry Street is how they had to shoot essential footage in the middle of the crowded streets of Manhattan without any official permission to film there, and how all the actors in this film are friends or in some way related to the director, so none of them received any payments. Not bad when you factor all that in. So if you're looking for a great film you won't find it in Mulberry Street. But if you go into it expecting an above average indi flick you will really like it. It's definately worth checking out.

Click here for movie trailer:

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