Quick Hit: An interesting idea and a stellar cast goes mostly wasted as the film struggles to decide where to go.
I remember following news about this film on sites like Bloody Disgusting, and was extremely confused when I found out that it wasn’t even going to be released. It was already on our list of things to watch, and so it languished there, transferred from list to list as we attempted to find a way to watch a film that only got a very limited DVD release. Eventually, we found it, and we watched it, and I understand why the studio decided to pull the plug. The movie doesn’t have much in the way of a plot that is consistent and thorough so much as someone that had a lot of ideas but very little execution.
In some ways, Patient Zero is the incredibly weird zombie movie that you want it to be. There’s a doctor (hahaha see what I did there?) played by Matt Smith that is a partial zombie, and he can communicate with those that are full zombies. This is never fully explained besides “science”, but I’ll give some grace here. He also has a wife he is trying to save who is a full zombie, and he has a brilliant scientist girlfriend? Who is played by Natalie Dormer. At some point, Stanley freaking Tucci shows up as a zombie that was captured. The scientists, who have been trying to track down “patient zero” aka the first person to become a zombie, are entranced by Tucci because he displays an ability to converse and control the disease, just like our Matt.
The movie doesn’t do justice to just how crazy that plot sounds, instead choosing to move from plot point to plot point with the speed of a 1960s zombie. As you expect, eventually the two sides of humanity clash, as they both want to rule the world. It’s unfortunate, because at times the movie almost could play as a prequel to something like Daybreakers (if it was about zombies instead of vampires) – intelligent creatures that just have a new difference in biology. A new phase of humanity, if you will, but instead, the movie just focuses on screaming and zombies that don’t like music? And we never go in and explain this more than saying they don’t? Or look at the implications of such a thing in warfare? It’s just lazy plot.
The acting follows suit. Tucci, who is good in everything, still manages to bring the plot up a bit, but it is too little too late by the time he shows up. All the side characters are cliché, and outside of a poorly paced bite scene that features the typical nerdy best friend, there’s very little in the way of excitement. Even that you can see coming.
Patient Zero is a film that had a lot going for it, and instead just didn’t get all the pieces together. It’s main points are still enough for genre fans to warrant a watch, but they’ll probably leave disappointed. I’m giving it a “D”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"