I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie; even though the trailer says that we’d see the apocalypse through their eyes, I saw enough scenes in there to lead me to assume that the first-person POV we see would not be the entire scope of the film (a la Hardcore Henry). The entire movie is first-person POV, if you weren’t expecting that.
The story is straightforward enough — dealing with the immediate aftermath of social collapse in the face of a growing pandemic that turns normal humans into monsters and worse — and what starts out as an assignment to rescue some uninfected people stranded in a distant part of the city turns into a fight for survival and also to hold on to the precious human connections that are most worth fighting for.
Sometimes the first-person perspective seems claustrophobic, perhaps because the field of vision is limited by the hazmat helmets the team wears when venturing outside of the compound on missions, but it does serve to intensify the paranoia and fear of each individual. The biggest drawback is not always knowing for sure whose POV we’re seeing events from… during fast-paced scenes there is POV hopping, sometimes a perspective shift isn’t clearly identified.
There are several twists in this movie, the biggest one being that we don’t discover anything about the virus or how it started or how it spread, but instead we delve deeper into the hopes and fears of the team members, and in discovering more about them we get a distinct shift in the tone and focus of the movie.
The creatures that infected humans are devolving into seem more alien than human at the advanced stages, and some humans at intermediate stages of infection seem to turn cannibal with no reason or expectation — it’s even a surprise to the members of the rescue team. The discovery of heavier and more widespread levels of infection where it was previously thought to be relatively safe increases the desperation of the rescue efforts even when it seems most likely to be a futile task.
This is where a shift in attention becomes a detriment to the story. We aren’t searching for a particular group of survivors anymore, nor for additional information about the virus that can help efforts to find a cure. The goals of Dr. Lauren Chase become more than suspect, but the members of the team who are still with her when things go really bad not only understand, but choose to help her on her personal quest, when common sense says that everything she’s trying to do not only endangers the lives of the rest of the team, but might also compromise the safety of every uninfected person back at the compound they’re trying to return to.
While I couldn’t reconcile those actions with the reality of the devastated world they were trying to figure out how to survive in, the story and the action are pretty solid, and once you get used to the movement of the POV hopping, it’s easier to settle into the story and be concerned about the safety and well-being of the team.
If you like zombie apocalypse type stories and an old-school first-person shooter video game perspective, this movie has a lot to entertain you, especially in the action scenes where you almost feel overrun by the infected horde coming at you (much like scenes from the game Doom back in the day). If you’re more of a stickler for story, there are a few developments that might disappoint, but there’s more than enough to still enjoy it overall.
Pandemic is set in the near future, where a virus of epic proportions has overtaken the planet. There are more infected than uninfected, and humanity is losing its grip on survival. Its only hope is finding a cure and keeping the infected contained. Lauren (Rachel Nichols) is a doctor, who, after the fall of New York, comes to Los Angeles to lead a team to hunt for and rescue uninfected survivors.
CAST: Rachel Nichols, Alfie Allen, Pat Healy with Missi Pyle and Mekhi Phifer
WRITTEN BY: Dustin T. Benson
DIRECTED BY: John Suits