Chemical Burn // 2010 // 100 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // June 3rd, 2011
We are all meat!
Julian Grant's low-budget horror film The Defiled proves to be quite an enjoyable ride. Reminiscent of the style of classics such as Night of the Living Dead, this movie takes a refreshing approach to the beloved zombie genre by shifting the focus on a creepy cannibal trying everything in his power to save his newborn son. That's right, the protagonist in this post-apocalyptic thriller is indeed a flesh-eating human struggling with the aftermath of an incurable virus. Hooked?
Disaster struck and the world is nearing an end after a nasty virus mutated the majority of the human race. Somewhere in the woods, a desperate and infected father named Yar (Brian Shaw) tries to care for a newborn, trying to prevent the child from getting addicted to human flesh. As he travels to evade surviving humans hunting down his kind, Yar encounters and saves a woman (Kathleen Lawlor) unaffected by the gnarly disease. Although terrified by his condition, the woman decides to join Yar on his quest to make sure his son survives.
Before I touch on the aspects that make The Defiled an intriguing film, let me briefly mention its obvious flaws. At 100 minutes, the movie is way too long. With an already simplistic storyline, the plot often tends to drag a little as Yar and his new companion spend tons of time just walking from one place to another. Some of this is obviously required to establish the isolated environment, but The Defiled is loaded with lengthy sequences during which barely anything happens. Let's just say the running time could've been easily cut by 10 or 20 minutes.
To tell you the truth, though, that's more or less the only thing I couldn't fully appreciate in this horror film. By having his lead character pair up with a healthy human and go above and beyond to protect his son, Grant created an interesting take on the power of love and protection of one's own kin in times of despair. Another reason why the film stands out is the complete lack of dialogue. The only thing we get to hear from the characters are grunts, but that's about it. This clearly creates a big challenge for the filmmaker to keep the story entertaining throughout, but Grant somehow succeed at doing just that.
Grant didn't have millions to spend on this film, but the production values sure make it look like a lot more expensive. The Defiled is presented in black-and-white, boasting a bluish and at times greenish tint that gives it an interesting look. The cinematography delivers the goods, and even the makeup deserves praise. The baby Yar tries to protect is actually a puppet, but it looks darned real. Solid editing and strong performances only add to the enjoyable experience.
I feels good to be able to see such films on DVD, but the widescreen presentation of The Defiled isn't stellar. The image isn't always as sharp and clean as it could be, and the audio does okay, although it's not a fascinating transfer. No big deal, but worth mentioning. The DVD also comes with an audio commentary by Grant and his lead actors. It's a chat I can only recommend for its insights about the story and the making of the film. Also included are two short home movies serving as a promotion for the film, as well as a quick slide show.
The Defiled deserves some attention. It's by no means a mindless horror film, injecting the zombie genre with new life. You would never see this film playing in a horde of theaters, but it's got everything it takes to build a cult following. It's packed with meat, so have a bite and check it out.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Chemical Burn
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Home Movies