Festival darling Gustavo Hernandez (The Silent House) is back with his latest thrill ride Virus :32. Paula Silva stars as fun-loving but neglectful single mother Iris, who is straddled with bringing her daughter along to work, despite the viral outbreak taking place around her. The infected start to invade while Iris is working her security night shift, and time becomes precious as Iris scrambles to find her daughter in the abandoned building without running into the feral trespassers.
The film opens at the start of the outbreak, as Iris and her daughter Tata (Rasjid César) walk to Iris‘s night shift. We can see the spread of the outbreak, in real-time, in the few short minutes it takes for Iris to walk to the community club. The birds-eye-view of Iris and Tata’s walk to work along the city streets is the biggest indicator of the film’s strength in storytelling. As we see Iris and Tata playfully dodge traffic, we also get a glimpse of the madness happening just one street over where neighbors are fleeing the streets and fighting for their lives. This theme of Iris being ahead of the outbreak by mere seconds is one that masterfully spans the entire film. They don’t call it Virus :32 for nothing.
When we get to the club, Iris quickly becomes wise to the growing threat that is slowly making its way inside. After discovering that Tata is not where she left her, Iris stumbles upon Luis (Daniel Hendler), a desperate husband attempting to help his pregnant wife give birth. Horror fans need not be reminded of the cardinal rule of “Zombie” flicks: The undead are not always the greatest danger.
For lack of a better word, this film is “cool”. The filmmaking techniques utilized in this film are creative and engaging; One minute we are cruising through a long shot in the dark hallways of the club and the next, the camera is in a 180’ turn holding Iris upside down in the frame and holding us hostage to her terror. Add a dash of security footage to highlight Iris’s frantic search for Tata and you have a recipe for a thrilling horror film. It truly feels like the story never stops moving and the tension is that much stronger for it.
While the film has its own unique take on the zombie genre (no spoilers here fiends), it gets bonus points for introducing circumstances not often seen in zombie films. Iris serves as a believably oblivious lead, as she’s already been established as a hands-off parent. But the film goes further in explaining her insensibility as a side-effect of loss, and it makes watching her fight for what’s left of her family feel authentic.
As for the zombies themselves, let’s just say they will inspire conversation about their categorization. But by now, that’s to be expected from films featuring the undead, right? What can be said is that they move with speed, have the ability to hunt, and are every bit as terrifying as one would hope. When Iris discovers that the infected are calmed by violence (for a brief 32 seconds- see what they did there) she is finally able to fight back and plan her escape. With this new caveat to the zombie attacks, Virus :32 is a welcome addition to the zombie subgenre that will have you glued to the couch.
“Virus :32 is a welcome addition to the zombie subgenre that will have you glued to the couch.”
Gustavo Hernandez’s Virus :32 , has its exclusive world premiere on Shudder April 21. Let us know what you thought of the film, and how you prepare for the zombie apocalypse over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.