Zombie Chronicles: The Infected — Special Edition (2010)

In running this website I get to watch and read a lot of projects … both good and bad.  Take for example ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: THE INFECTED, written, directed, produced, and edited by Marvin Suarez (who also did the casting, production design, operated the camera, served as the key grip, and played the role of a cameraman).  I first got in touch with Marvin in early Spring of 2010 through Twitter (@InfectedZombies).  At that point he was in the early-to-mid stages of putting together ZOMBIE CHRONICLES and I could feel his excitement through our email correspondences.  Well this is one of those times where a filmmakers passion comes through in aces!!  Suarez made a tight, fast-paced 26 minute zombie short that delivers in it’s story telling, characters, and zombie mayhem.

Let me take a second and get something off my chest — for the record.  I get a lot of screeners from indie horror filmmakers.  A lot.  When I originally make contact with a filmmaker who’s looking to get their project reviewed and subsequently promoted I always let them know that just because they’re sending me a free copy of their film in no way guarantees they will get a favorable review.  Sometimes I never hear back from them.  But for the most part I’ve been lucky; most of the films I get from indie filmmakers have been really fun and enjoyable.  There are times though when I have gotten some absolute pretentious suck-fests (see my review of BURNING INSIDE; blech!!).  But the bottom line is that I approach every film I watch, regardless of whether I get it through Netflix or directly from the filmmakers, the same way — every film gets an unbiased and honest review.

Paramedics Sarah (Celeste Santoya) and Josh (Lavrenti Lopes). Their day is about to get a LOT worse.

Ok; thanks for sticking with me while I got that off my chest!!  With that being said I was really hoping that Suarez’s ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: THE INFECTED wasn’t gonna disappoint, and thankfully it doesn’t.  The short begins with the zombie apocalypse having already begun.  We don’t really know what caused it, but its obviously being caused by some kind of virus.  There’s rioting in the streets as the survivors run for their lives from the infected as they are trying to comprehend what’s going on.  At the center of it all are two paramedics, Sarah (Celeste Santoya) and Josh (Lavrenti Lopes), who quickly realize that the dead are coming back to “life” and attacking the living.  Once they realize that things are out of control and that they’re doing nothing but endangering themselves by being on the streets, Sarah decides to go back home to check on her daughter.  Once back at her apartment things go from really bad to fucked.

These ain’t your dad’s “Romero zombies” (not that there’s anything wrong w/ them) … these fuckers haul ass!!

Suarez isn’t trying to re-invent the zombie genre with his ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: THE INFECTED.  You aren’t going to see anything really original, BUT you are going to see things done right.  The zombies, while not covered in elaborate make-up, are scary as they slowly take over the city and infect anyone who is “normal.”  But whereas the story may not be groundbreaking, the zombies Suarez gives us are refreshing.  They’re the “fast” kind of zombies, and they also seem to retain some level of intelligence and consciousness about what they are and what they’re doing.  In a particular creepy scene a zombie explains to Sarah what he’s planning on doing to her.  It’s a nice creepy, effective scene.

Scream … don’t scream. I think they’re gonna find you regardless!!

Suarez also doesn’t rely solely on excessive gore to make his film scary.  There is some well done (albeit tame) gore, but the real scares comes from Suarez’a use of shadows, the way scenes are filmed, and the good old fashioned “fear of the unknown.”  Every corner Josh and Sarah turn and every doorway they walk through you can feel the tension the characters feel and the danger they are in.  He accomplishes this by using the Brian De Palma technique of splitting the screen into two to four screens whereby the viewer gets to see the same scene unfold from up to four different perspectives.  Suarez doesn’t use this as a gimmick; it’s an essential tool he uses to tell his story.  It’s a really well-filmed short that fully develops the tension in every scene.

Like all films, whether they’re big budget epics or small indie’s, this film isn’t perfect.  At times lead actress Santoya over acts a bit and takes the viewer out of “the moment,” but overall she does a good job (as does the entire cast).  There are also times where the sound and dialogue are hard to hear, but these are minor complaints.  Overall this is a solid and very fun horror short made by a talented young filmmaker.  ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: THE INFECTED ends with the on-screen words:

Infected Case # 1938

Closed

He doesn’t look so good!!

This implies there will be more to come, right?  Absolutely.  Suarez envisions his ZOMBIE CHRONICLES as a three part series.  The next part, titled ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: INFECTED SURVIVORS, which is already shot and being edited as I type this review and will (hopefully) be out later in 2011.  Suarez is also writing part three and is planning on going into production sometime in July of 2011.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what Suarez does with and where he takes his “intelligent zombies.”  My other main complaint, and this is directed right at you Suarez, is to stop teasing me with 25 minute shorts and give me a full length feature!!  I was really engrossed in the story and characters (especially Sarah’s character) and wanted to see more (Suarez is actually planning on a feature length film down the road).

Filmmaker Marvin Suarez on the set.

There’s one last thing I wanted to mention:  I don’t know what Suarez’s budget was on this short, but I can tell you that he put every single penny of his (I assume) modest budget up on the screen.  There are 45 people listed in the cast!!  This is good for the viewer because he doesn’t skimp on the attacking zombies at all.  Most scenes are full of rampaging zombies looking for uninfected humans.  Over half the cast is listed as a “zombie” in the credits; there’s more zombies in this short than I’ve seen in some full length feature zombie flicks!!

This short isn’t gonna re-invent the zombie genre, and it’s not trying too.  But if you’re looking for a kick ass zombie flick that has all the best ingredients of the zombie genre and does them right, then you’re gonna have a really fun time.  I encourage you to contact Suarez at infectedpictures@yahoo.com to find out how you can see ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: THE INFECTED.  It’s worth your time!!  Suarez has recently released a ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: THE INFECTED SPECIAL EDITION with deleted scenes, interviews with the cast and crew, and it has a sneak peak of part two (this is just a few of the extras; in all there’s over three hours of extra material in the Special Edition).  Now’s a great time to pick up THE INFECTED and support a talented filmmaker.  Suarez has made it really easy.  Just head over to http://www.whataretheinfected.com and order a copy … you’ll thank me after you see it (you can also keep up with his progress on parts 2 and 3 at his new blog site http://www.marvinsuarez.com).

My Summary:

Director:  Marvin Suarez (and writer)

Plot:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Gore:  3 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  4 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

Here’s an added bonus for all my faithful readers:  The teaser trailer for ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: INFECTED SURVIVORS!!  Enjoy:

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  1. […] short, ZOMBIE CHRONICLES: THE INFECTED, free on his website, whataretheinfected.com (see my review here). Take advantage of this everyone; I don’t know how long Suarez is gonna leave his zombie […]

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