Lower Manhattan is changing, thanks to the construction company Crome Developers. They plan to make it snazzy and expensive, pulling down all the old buildings. Of course, this film isn’t really about that at all. It’s actually about a zombie virus… on Mulberry Street… except, it isn’t… you see the correct name for the film is simply “Mulberry Street”. It’s not so much a zombie virus as an infection carried by rats that turns you into a rat face killer…
So, here we have it. Let’s try again. Rats, disturbed by the development of Mulberry Street by Crome Developers, are attacking people, bringing lower Manhattan to a standstill as the authorities try to control the situation.
There’s chaos, anarchy and unrest… well, traffic jams and no subway transport. Thankfully, we’ve got a group of social misfits to save the day.
Our heroes end up trapped in one building (or at least it looks like one building) whilst everyone else gets eaten and infected by the rat disease and the police (or army, or whoever the troops are) are sent in (sight unseen) to shoot-to-kill.
There’s a (possibly) gay black man, a couple of rough Hispanic types, an old guy, a pretty blond woman, a young lad with a camera and a few others. Of course, being trapped in a building, we’ve got an oft used device of horror films… the trapped in a building horror film, where every door could have a nasty behind it, every stairwell or vent could herald the end of another character, and every shake and rattle of the brickwork could be deadly, especially given that the building seems so run-down anyway.
The characters don’t run into cliché often, which shows how well thought-out the film is. It would have been far too easy to have the screaming blond girl, for example. All of them have their own personal strengths and character flaws and we don’t get endless conversation about their back-story. They are, in equal measure, tragic, strong and human. Particularly in the last few minutes, when the story reaches a rather low key climax, they really do come to life. There’s a sense of intelligence in the film that ends, as did Night Of The Living Dead, with a sense of hopelessness.
They’ve done something quite interesting with the special effects in this film. They’ve kept the sight of attacks quite low, using mainly quick jumps and fade-to-black, or aftermath shots. It helps keep the story moving and doesn’t give us time to mock the lower budget SFX or compare them to more expensive films like 28 Days Later.
The camera-work is actually pretty damned good – extreme close ups, unusual camera angles and spinning camera shots which, when supplemented by effective use of surround sound, all add to the sense of disorientation and claustrophobia that we experience. There’s one moment on the rooftops where I’m pretty sure they used day-for-night filming, but it still (almost) works.
The film, in places, almost feels like an homage to 1970s American horror films, showing off the grandiose side of the Manhattan skyline, but also the dark squalour in which the people live, as well as the impotence of authority and the survival instinct of man.
As Mulberry Street, the film is a well written and effective horror film, tense and violent, but not overly gory and at 80 minutes it is far too short. As Zombie Virus On Mulberry Street, you’ll expect a low budget trashy B-movie and end up being woefully disappointed.
Extras Aside from the trailer, there are two deleted scenes that should have been included in the film as they are so short. Also featured are:
– Make up tests – a short series of videos to show how the make up developed from something distinctly low-budget to something really quite convincing- Shooting Rat Creatures is a short montage of video footage showing the rat-infected actors in makeup during breaks in filming.- Behind the Scenes: The Rats is footage of the rats (real and occasionally disobedient rats) behind the scenes.- Early Director Sketches are just that… a series of hand drawn early images, some of which are pretty creepy looking and wouldn’t look out of place in a comic book.- Storyboards use sequences from the film and overlay them on the storyboard. This is the longest of the features at just under 9 minutes.- VFX tests is a feature showing how SFX techniques, including CGI, was used to create some of the scenes and comparing them to the original plate.
It would have been nice to have more to the special features, particularly if they’d re-edited the VFX, storyboards and rats stuff into a full-fledged making of. As it stands, they feel disjointed and a tad lacking.
Zombie Virus On Mulberry Street is released on the 18th of May.