Viral contagion thrillers don't get much more benign than "Phase 7," whose low budget inspires some clever production choices and no shortage of narrative longueurs.

Viral contagion thrillers don’t get much more benign than “Phase 7,” whose low budget inspires some clever production choices and no shortage of narrative longueurs. Set in a Buenos Aires apartment building put under quarantine after a mysterious epidemic outbreak, this well-shot but listless Argentine pic lacks sufficient satiric energy to distinguish itself from countless other entries in the self-parodic, bio-apocalyptic subgenre. Picked for distribution to AMC theaters as part of the “Night Terrors” series co-run by Bloody Disgusting and the Collective, “Phase 7″ won’t reach Stage 1 on the B.O. scale, nor will it result in much ancillary action.

The film’s laid-back hero is Coco (Daniel Hendler), a soon-to-be dad who realizes late in the game that a strange disease has gripped the citizens of Argentina as well as those of seven other countries. Following a “Taxi Driver”-style burst of machismo in the mirror, Coco allies with well-stocked survivalist Horacio (Jose “Yayo” Guridi) against the old, paranoid and trigger-happy Zanutto (Federico Luppi). Pic culminates in violent slapstick farce while remaining dramatically exhausted. By default, a close-up of Froot Loops drenched in milk constitutes the film’s critique of consumer culture.

Phase 7

Argentina

Production

A Bloody Disgusting Selects, the Collective release of an Aeroplano production, in association with Toto Films, with the support of Incaa, Telefe. Produced by Sebastian Aloi. Executive producers, Sebastian Perillo, Steven Schneider. Co-executive producers, Nicolas Goldbart, Axel Kuschevatzky. Directed, written by Nicolas Goldbart.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Lucio Bonelli; editors, Goldbart, Pablo Barbieri; music, Guillermo Guareschi; production designer, Mariela Ripodas; costume designer, Paola Delgado; sound (Dolby Digital), Martin Grignaschi; visual effects supervisor, Leandro Pugliese; visual effects, Wanka; line producer, Sebastian Perillo; associate producers, Benjamin Eloi, Bernard Eloi, Hector Pines, Ricardo D'Amato, Esteban Torres, Tomas Cohen, Lanfranco Pablo Burattini, Jose "Yayo" Guridi; assistant director, Gabriel Medina; casting, Ines Braun, Maria Ines Sainz. Reviewed on DVD, Minneapolis, July 5, 2011. (In SXSW Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Daniel Hendler, Jazmin Stuart, Jose "Yayo" Guridi, Federico Luppi, Carlos Bermejo, Abian Vainstein.

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