Edinburgh International Film Festival

Phase 7 (2011)

Starring: Daniel Hendler, Jazmín Stuart, Yayo Guridi, Federico Luppi

Directed by: Nicolás Goldbart

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Pipi (Jazmin Stuart) and Coco (Daniel Hendler) in Phase 7

Well, dip me in brains and throw me to the zombies – I've just seen a horror film in which victims die from a mysterious disease during a fatal global epidemic and actually stay dead. Nope, there's not a shambling, rotting, walking corpse in sight in this inventive, tongue-in-cheek yet strangely plausible Argentinian thriller.

In fact the only shambling we get here is in the opening scene, as our hero, Coco (Daniel Hendler) trails grumpily round the supermarket after his pregnant wife Pipi (Jazmín Stuart). But when his building is plunged into quarantine as a deadly disease sweeps the continent, this slightly hopeless Everymanchild is forced into action as his neighbours begin to suffer the effects of cabin fever.

Not so much stepping up to the mark as stumbling over it, he dons an anti-infection suit and starts patrolling the corridors.

In some ways, this is a film about what happens when men get bored. While Pipi does her best to keep calm and carry on, the menfolk start packing pistols and causing trouble: Lord of the Flies with grown ups, almost. Because as usual, it isn't the infected that are the real menace here (we only see one victim and she's hardly a threat) it's our friends and neighbours.

Coco dons his anti-infection suit

Like Rec and Right At Your Door, the action is largely confined to a single, claustrophobic interior: like the characters, we have no idea what is happening beyond the four walls of the building. Yet director Nicolás Goldbart stretches a limited budget to create a psychological thriller in which tension and fear are broken by laugh-out-loud humour as our very real, fallible hero struggles to live up to his new responsibilities.

All in all, a nice little horror/thriller movie, and a great start to the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Now excuse me as I'm off to the supermarket to stock up on cereal and Hazmat suits...

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