La Mirada Film Festival Review: Phase 7 (Fase 7) (2010)

15 Apr

Phase 7 (Fase 7), 95 mins, Argentina, 2010, Spanish with English subtitles, Action / Comedy

This directorial debut from young writer/ filmmaker Nicolás Goldbart is an impressive yet subdued black comedy that explores the human’s ease to turn to paranoia when faced with a viral epidemic.

Spurred by the 2009 outbreak of Swine fly, and the consequent media frenzy and public fear , Goldbart situations us in a quarantined apartment building as the world enters a deadly phase of an undetermined virus. Young married couple, Coco and Pipi, find themselves pitted against their neighbours as the quarantine continues and the constricting apartment life, with dwindling supplies and unreliable information, slowly stars to get to them.

While it would seem this approach to a virus of apocalyptic proportions is the easier route to take, the other option being to show the chaos on the streets – enter expensive sets, make-up, special effects and so on, the choice to set this film in the apartment building means Goldbart must work harder to maintain his audience’s attention. At first the film borrows lightly from the comedy Shaun of the Dead, placing unenthused Gen Xers in a pandemic situation while they casually go about their grocery shopping and bickering. Soon, however the film begins to stand on its own legs as a piece of intriguing, modern Argentinian cinema with a black comedic heart.

With a middling pace Phase 7 ultimately aims to parody the absurdness of the majority of zombie and post apocalyptic films with its casual tone, and it pays off in a dry, offbeat way. A fun, ingenious film to close the La Mirada Film Festival and one which promises great things to come from its director.

Phase 7 plays the closing night of the festival – April 25, 2011. Please see the La Mirada Film Festival website for details.

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