Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mulberry St (2006)

Note: This review is part of my coverage of Horrorfest II.

Mulberry St

This was an unsettling title. Very tense throughout, and conveys a real sense of place. It's in every aspect a New York City film. You can just feel the lifeblood of the city in it. A handful of characters are introduced, living much less than perfect lives in the city, before everything starts going to hell. Some kind of infection breaks out in Manhattan under the sewers, and it's spread from rats to people. The bizarre thing is that it turns people into some kind of ravenous rat creature. They gradually grow ratlike features and start feeding on human flesh. Kind of like an American 28 Days Later with rats.

You get to see people start to panic as the infection spreads; the news reports get more and more frantic before going out all together; and then the survivors are left to fend for their very lives trying to fight off the hordes of hungry ratpeople. Among the important characters there's a very serious female soldier returning from service, trying to make it back to her father (I believe) as the chaos spreads; the father, a pretty adept boxer with a courageous heart; a mother and son - the mother who works at a nearby bar; and various other tenants of the cramped apartment complex the story focuses on.

It's a very gritty film. I was kind of confused by a certain group of kids in the audience who kept giggling at all the scenes of brutal violence. Maybe they were high, maybe they just thought the idea of ratpeople invading New York City was too ridiculous (actually, doesn't it seem almost too real?), but I feel like we should be more concerned about the people that take that kind of material so lightly than those who surround themselves with it but treat it the way it demands. Some parts are humorous in a stark and natural way, but the film is very serious and no-nonsense. The ending is not happy. Just think what the government would do in that situation. The infection is confined to an island, and very few survivors are left. Better take the safe route out, right? Just don't tell the rest of the public about the unsavory bits.

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