Sunday, March 4, 2012


"If you are interested in a smaller scale film that deals with a pandemic disaster on a very human level, then give Phase 7 a try."
Science Fiction, Horror, Post-Pandenmic and Dark Satire

Starring - Daniel Hendler/Coco, Jazmin Stuart/Pipi, Yayo Guridi/Horacio and Federico Luppi/Zanutto
Director and Writer - Nicolas Goldbart
R - Includes adult themes, adult activity, hard language and intense bloody violence.
1 hr., 37 min.
I’m always looking for something new and interesting to watch in the science fiction film genre. There are very few big-budget mainstream films that deal with dystopian themes that emphasis character. Usually I have to find these types of films in the independent or direct-to-DVD market and because their budgets are so small, they often are not very well produced or acted. Fortunately, Netflix offers a very good selection of foreign films in their streaming service and many of these films deal with this subject matter with a slightly higher level of quality. Phase 7 (Fase 7) is a Spanish language film shot in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a native cast and directed and written by former film editor Nicolas Goldbart, that takes the pandemic film genre on at a very personal level.
The story is fairly straight forward. Coco and Pipi are a young couple who live in a new high-rise apartment complex where they don't have much interaction with their neighbors. Pipi is seven months pregnant, so when the apartment building is sealed off as part of a government-ordered quarantine, at first they aren’t concerned and are prepared to wait it out. After several weeks, it becomes apparent that the epidemic has become a stage six world-wide epidemic and now the few remaining apartment dwellers are on their own. Coco, who is not prepared to deal with such a life-threatening situation, is helped by his fellow fourth-floor neighbor, Horacio, who has prepared for such an occasion. Soon, as food becomes scarce and tensions become elevated, neighbors become enemies and survival becomes the priority.
Phase 7 doesn’t offer anything different from many other films in the pandemic science fiction sub-genre. What it does do is do it on a small enough scale to make it feel more realist and relatable on a human level. While Coco, the young husband and father-to-be, is not the most relatable or plausible of protagonists, he does grow as a character as the film progresses. The standout character is Coco’s neighbor, Horacio, the survivalist who must force Coco to not only accept the dread circumstances that the pandemic has caused, but learn the use of firearms and other means to protect his wife and future family. The only unrealistic character in the film is Coco’s wife, Pipi, who never seems to grasp the danger that they are in and spends most of the film eating and sleeping, oblivious to the actions of her husband.
After a fairly slow-paced set up, Phase 7 picks up the pace in the middle acts. Even though many of the action scenes in Phase 7 aren’t anything we haven’t seen before, they are shot and acted with enthusiasm and a slight comedic edge that I haven’t seen in a film since Robert Rodriguez’ El mariachi (1992). Despite the dystopian setting, Phase 7 never gets bogged down in melancholia or hopelessness.
As a non-Spanish speaker I found The English sub-titles unobtrusive to the energy of the film, as Phase 7 is carried as much by the emotive expressions of the characters as by their dialogue.
If you are interested in a smaller scale film that deals with a pandemic disaster on a very human level, then give Phase 7 a try.

TECHNICAL: Acting – 8 Directing – 9 Cinematography – 8 Script – 9 Special Effects – 8
VISCERAL: Visual – 8 Auditory – 8 Intellectual – 9 Emotional – 8 Involvement – 9

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