“Virus-32” – Movie Review

How can a person go from someone you love and care about to a vicious, ravenous beast ready to devour you in a mere 32 seconds?  Shudder’s latest original “infected” movie deals with just that, in a manner that horror fans will find similar to 28 Days Later.  While not as groundbreaking or iconic as that classic, Virus-32 has a lot to offer in its own way.

32 Seconds
Opening in Montevideo, Uruguay, we’re treated to what appears to be one continuous long shot (which is beautifully crafted by the way) that reveals the chaos and destruction that’s to come.  A man brutally kills a family pet, people are chased by loved ones, and the stage is set for a horrific series of events that will consume the residents of the Uruguayan capital.

The opening scene is without a doubt the best scene in the movie, and that’s both a blessing and a curse.  It perfectly sets the tone of the movie, and with very little expositional dialogue, demonstrates the 32 second nature of the virus and how quickly it takes people over.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie never reaches that same level of energy, and it’s quite clear that the production spent the majority of its $1.5 million budget on that opening scene.  Now we obviously don’t want to hold a movie’s budget against it, or use that as a source of criticism.  It’s just that the first scene feels much more interesting than anything else that follows.

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It sort of suffers from “28 Weeks Later Syndrome”, where the opening scene is too interesting, and nothing in the rest of the movie lives up to it.

It begs the question as to why the film didn’t focus on the overall city itself, as was seemingly promised in that opening scene.

Forced into Responsibility
To be fair, our main character is a well-rounded and interesting person to follow.  She’s a mother to an 8 year old, but still lives her life as if she’s young and carefree.  It’s established early on that she doesn’t have full custody and she even forgets that her daughter is coming over.

Once the outbreak of the titular virus begins, she’s forced to become a responsible and protective mother, as the infected begin to try to breach the run-down building they’re hiding in.  There’s a fascinating character arc where she’s thrown into the deep end, and discovers that it’s better late than never to become a good parent

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You do feel the tension in the mother/daughter relationship. But you can also feel that they both are trying.

This is especially illustrated in one scene in which she attends to an infected woman in the middle of labor.  While the baby is born seemingly healthy, the mother is still infected and stil tries to devour it.  Here our protagonist is given an extreme example of the tragic consequences of a parent not caring for their child.

Unfresh Take?
All movies borrow and draw inspiration from what came before, there is no denying that.  Horror is filled with homages to classics past, but usually a movie needs to do something new or unique with that home to subvert or challenge the expectation.

Virus-32 is by no means a bad movie, but its premise is inspired by 28 Days Later, its “zombie birth” scene is inspired by 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, and it never really does anything on its own plotwise or themewise.  It just would have been more interesting to see the movie take more risks or go all out like it did in that opening scene.

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It’s got decent zombie gore as well.

While Virus-32 boasts beautiful cinematography, and compelling characters, it doesn’t do much for the genre that we haven’t already seen before.  It makes for a decent watch, but probably won’t be as memorable as some of the other Shudder originals released this year thus far.

What did you think of Virus-32? Let us know in the comments!

Virus-32 is streaming exclusively on Shudder

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