Block Z - Directed by Mikhail Red, a disparate group of students must band together if they are goin...
Plot: A group of students becomes trapped in a university as a virus outbreak turns everyone into hordes of flesh-eating undead.
(Note: Mild spoilers.)
First off, the negative. "Block Z", Mikhail Red's sixth feature film, has gaping plot holes. Foremost is the under-explained (if at all) cause of the deadly virus outbreak. Perhaps, this may not have to be considered as a loophole anymore. "Train to Busan" didn't bother to explain the origin of the outbreak and it somehow worked. There are other much better zombie movies that likewise left us in the dark as to what caused everyone else to become, well, zombies. So on that point, we can forgive "Block Z". Yet, some things in "Block Z" rather turn up bafflingly, like the supposed "hydrophobic" character of the undead (does the black cat provide any clue?) and the "genetic immunity" of two of the main characters (you gotta be kidding!). And what happened to the military that was earlier seen as putting under quarantine the entire university? Looks like the makers forgot to get back to them. Logic gets to fly fast out of the window in the film. But I generally don't demand much from a horror movie. As long as it manages to scare me out of my wits and doesn't bore me to tears, then we have nothing to argue about. Some things then just have to follow or become added enhancements, like an engaging story or characters to care for. "Sunod" was such a horror film, that's why I consider it to be terrific. The same thing can't be said of "Nightshift" though, that's why I think of it as a bad horror movie. Fortunately, "Block Z" isn't along the lines of that Yam Laranas movie, thus I regard it to be a reasonably good work. It's an enjoyable, handsomely-shot thrill-ride that has enough doses of blood and gore, with the director exhibiting once again his flair for nail-biting sequences. Moreover, it's a film that's not afraid to kill off its rising young stars. I honestly thought that, as with "Eerie", "Block Z" would turn out to be a merely derivative fare. Yet somehow, the film feels fresh and distinctively local. It may be argued that, except for two, all the other characters aren't given enough backstories (or probably none at all;though the film is actually good in initially establishing these disparate characters), but in a strangely pleasant way we still somewhat manage to care for them. The emotions are justifiably earned in their own way. This is most likely due to the immediate danger of the situation that the protagonists are thrust into. Joshua Garcia is such a sensitive young actor that even if he's working on a scantily-written character, he still manages to make us root for him and, in certain moments, even to move us. While Julia Barretto's "shift" in character towards the end is pleasantly surprising, something we never imagined that the actress is capable of doing in the movies (after previously seeing her in a number of rom-coms). Speaking of kick-ass ladies, I just wish we got to know what became of the lady-guard character of Dimples Romana by the end. It seems like the makers also forgot to return to her. Altogether, just don't expect "Block Z" to provide social commentary ala-"Train to Busan" or to give an inventive meta-twist to the zombie genre ala-"Shaun of the Dead". Rather, if you're going to condition yourself that all you want is to have one bloodily fun thrill-ride in the cinema, then I guess "Block Z" won't disappoint.