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Immune (2016)

Immune (2016)

Writers: Christopher Bourne, Simon Horton
Director: Steven Tayler
Tagline: The city's dead at night

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Full Review

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Immune is a low-budget British zombie movie set in Coventry in the English Midlands.

The main story takes place some nine months after a zombie outbreak that might or might not be related to a genetically engineered pesticide. The main character is James (Christopher Clarke), an itinerant survivor currently holed up in a Coventry house.

Most of the first twenty minutes involve James wandering around Cov in silence. At home he has only an ancient teddy bear for company. Then he comes across an unconscious Tommy (Simon Jarrett). Tommy has been bitten but for some reason is immune. He wants to get to his family in Kenilworth.

And that's pretty much it. There's not much in the way of story here, it's about the characters and the situation. The film is presumably intended to capture the loneliness and futility of being a post-apocalypse survivor. It does so extremely well - this is definitely a miserabilist film where action takes second place.

So this is a character piece about the two men and their relationship. As such it works really well with the characters being well drawn and interesting. A film like this requires a lot of the actors and they don't quite have it. Both Clarke and Jarrett are fine most of the time but both also occasionally give the most excruciatingly wooden delivery of a line.

I really liked Tayler's direction, it fitted the atmosphere extremely well as he worked the characters and their fluctuating relationship nicely. The scenes had an appropriately gritty atmosphere and the urban desolation highlighted the existential angst of being a survivor. It's all nicely supported by Chris McGuire's music.

Unfortunately the script isn't nearly as strong. Although this is a character piece I really wanted a little more story, especially earlier on before Tommy was introduced. There are also a number of failings that should have been caught. Some are minor - for example James has plenty of weapons at home but goes scavenging with a blunt butter knife. More seriously, the fact that the zombies can't come out in daylight - a crucial plot detail - is not made sufficiently clear early enough. Nor is the immunity issue ever adequately explained, either literally or allegorically (I suspect the latter was intended).

In many ways Immune reminds me of a much darker version of The Battery (2012) - even down to the off-screen community that is mentioned but never seen. Like The Battery, Immune suffers from too little story to carry the film, however it works better than The Battery because of the bleakness and the more interesting urban setting.

If you can handle the lack of action and significant flaws then Immune is an impressive character piece.