Hip-hop-flavored youth movie “The Plague” may meander down byways, but it brims with vitality, much like the London housing projects where it was shot. Feature debut by 23-year-old helmer Greg Hall was allegedly made for only £3,500 ($6,400) on a MiniDV, and produced by helmer’s immediate family. Nevertheless, impressive thesping, streetwise wit and visual inventiveness recall the early, no-budget work of Brit director Shane Meadows. Despite severely undernourished production values, pic could prove mildly contagious with young auds in Blighty, and maybe with the same demographic abroad, if savvy distribs hype the filmmakers’ Cinderella story.
Story limns 24 hours or so in the life of buddies Alex, Tom, Ravi and Matt (Samuel Anokye, David Bonnick Jr., Nur Alam Rahman, Brett Harris). The mixed-race quartet’s main gig is dealing hashish round the neighborhood but they get involved in other illegal scrapes in a day, ranging from spray painting graffiti to banking fraud. A tussle with some neo-Nazi thugs results in lost cash. Writer-helmer Hall crams in too much incident and fluffs the final climax, but he elicits delightfully spontaneous perfs from his mostly non-pro cast, who look appropriately street.