Zombie Virus On Mulberry Street

Zombie Virus On Mulberry Street


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Rule number one with creature features, is that said creature must be believable and scary, is preferably unseen until well on in the film and, with a bit of luck, bears little or no relation to HR Giger's Alien.

Mulberry Street strikes out on the first. Let's face it, these days, in a world of deadly disease, maniacs and things that go crunch in the night, the humble rat is the very least of our worries - but then again, at least it doesn't look like something from another planet.

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Scary or not, here they are - green lit, so that we know they are scary. In fact, they just look like outcasts from Flushed Away. But, this is the lowest of low budget, so let's let them away with it for now, especially since the filmmakers dutifully follow the second part of the rule - keeping an air of mystery around the bad guys.

The premise, and it's not half bad, is distinctly sub James Herbert. Rats on the New York subway get a taste for something a little more homo sapien than Mickey Ds and before you can say mousetrap, folk are mutating into human-size rat fiends.

Fortunately, we don't see too much of the rat fiends at first, which is probably just as well or we would have to put them in the laugh bucket with the rats. Premise determined, you know they are coming, inexorably, to transform Manhattan Island into Night Of The Living Dead, or 28 Days Later or - quite frankly - any number of contamination movies.

So, what we have here is, essentailly, so low budget, so samey, but - and there is one - what it also has is a touch of class in terms of characterisation. Earmarked for the (possible) kill are the residents of a Manhattan tenement building, including Clutch (Nick Damici) an all-round good egg boxer, and an assortment of oddballs. Clutch is waiting for his daughter Casey (Kim Blair) to come back after having served - and been scarred - in Iraq, and this is their story of trying to get through the city and through the night.

The important thing is, thanks to a smart and involving script, we care about whether they make it until morning.

Each character is carefully sculpted, even down to the sparring old guys who live on the bottom floor. By elevating them to more than mere rat fodder, director Jim Mickle and Damici tap into something that is often forgotten in horror - the humanity. Equally, they find room to reference the current American zeitgeist, involving 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and Iraq.

When the rat fiends finally come, they suffer from a lack of scariness, despite Mickle using speeded up handheld camera to good effect to try to ratchett the tension. There are, however, a couple of decent shocks and these guys are to be commended - and, preferably, offered a larger budget to prove what they really can do.

Reviewed on: 02 May 2007
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Manhattan gets ratty.
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Director: Jim Mickle

Writer: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle

Starring: Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Vonia Arslanian, Laurel Astri, Ron Brice, Bo Corre, Larry Fessenden, Larry Fleischman, Adam Folk, Rodney Gray, Tim House

Year: 2006

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: US

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28 Days Later
Night Of The Living Dead