Mutants

"Mutants" is far from groundbreaking but a worthy enough addition to recent screamers from France.

With:
With: Helene de Fougerolles, Francis Renaud, Dida Diafat, Marie-Sohna Conde, Nicolas Briancon, Luz Mando, Driss Ramdi, Gregory Givernaud, Justine Bruneau de la Salle.

A gory crossbreed of “28 Days Later,” “Dawn of the Dead” and several other zombie reprises, “Mutants” is far from groundbreaking but a worthy enough addition to the recent trend of screamers from Gaul. Writer-director David Morley’s debut — about a corrosive virus that turns humans into gut-munching, blood-vomiting monsters — is fast, extremely dirty and rarely boring, despite routine plotting and few new surprises. Well-tuned low-budgeter performed weakly on May 6 local release, but could morph into potent homevid chow for horror fans in France and beyond.

From its splattery opening, in which an ambulance plows through a live body and then empties its own bloody cargo on a desolate country road, to the corpse-crunching finale, the pic sets the ketchup quotient very high and never disappoints.

Between all the plasma and latex is a dark two-hander about EMT worker Sonia (Helene de Fougerolles) and her infected b.f., Marco (Francis Renaud), the sole survivors of a horrific plague that’s transformed the French population into one giant steak tartare. Holed up in an abandoned, zombie-surrounded mountain hospital, Sonia tries to keep Marco from fully mutating, before she’s forced to fight on her own.

Morley keeps things quick and watchable by providing a relentless succession of grossouts while staying focused on his only plot point: Can you still love somebody if they’ve just spewed two liters of hemoglobin in your face and can’t wait to literally eat your heart out?

Tech packaging makes the most of its sole location, with d.p. Nicole Massart’s punchy but slightly over-bleached imagery capturing every last drop of gore by art director Olivier Afonso (“Inside”) and makeup artist Frederic Laine (“Hitman”).

De Fougerolles (“Vampire Party”) and Renaud (“MR 73”) manage to give life and attitude to the f/x-heavy narrative, which keeps its spare, awkward dialogue to a minimum.

Mutants

France

Production: A CTV Intl. release of a Sombrero Films production, in association with Cofinova 4, with the participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema, TPS Star, CNC. (International sales: TF1 Intl., Paris.) Produced by Alain Benguigui, Thomas Verhaeghe. Directed by David Morley. Screenplay, Morley, Johanne Bernard, Louis-Paul Desanges.

Crew: Camera (color), Nicole Massart; editor, Romain Namura; music, Thomas Couzinier; production designer, Jeremy Streliski; art director, Olivier Afonso; costume designer, Cecile Guiot; sound (DTS Digital), Gregoire Couzinier, Renaud Michel; visual effects supervisor, Stephane Bidault; special makeup effects, Frederic Laine; assistant director, Stephane Reus, casting, Aurelie Guichard. Reviewed at Rex 1, Paris, May 11, 2009. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Helene de Fougerolles, Francis Renaud, Dida Diafat, Marie-Sohna Conde, Nicolas Briancon, Luz Mando, Driss Ramdi, Gregory Givernaud, Justine Bruneau de la Salle.

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