Saturday, October 20, 2007


Opening up the Toronto After Dark Film Festival this year is the small budget 'viral apocalypse' film MULBERRY STREET. This is very much a post 9-11 New York, perhaps a little paranoid, and under more reconstruction than just the buildings that fell that day. Big corporate development is buying up old tenement buildings in the grittier parts of town, including one on Mulberry Street where our protagonists live.

Clutch is scarred from his previous life as a boxer, and well known for his good deeds by all the tenants. He catches the eye of bartender Kay, who lives with her teenage son. Clutch gets word that his daughter Casey is coming home, her stay in a Veteran's hospital has ended after a tour of duty in the Middle East. This is also good news to the cross-dressing Coco, Clutch's best friend and perhaps second parent to Casey.

Throughout the day we hear newscasts of strange attacks in the subways, it seems that the rat population is on the offensive. Victims who survive the attacks begin to turn into something zombie-like, but more accurately, rage infected rat people! Soon enough the tenants are under attack. While Clutch struggles to save his friends from the ever growing horde, Casey races through the invested city to reach her father. Manhattan is quarantined, and it's citizens are left to fend for themselves.

It is so refreshing to watch a horror film that actually takes the time to develop it's characters, because when the shit goes down, you actually care about them, and the horrors they face become all the more frightening to the audience.

On the downside, being a low budget film like this, it can fall into the "shakey-cam" school of action, in order to hide the limited practical effects of the rat people. In the case of this film though, it's a very minor grievance because there's so much more to it than just violence and gore.

The acting is great all across the board, which you don't usually find in low budget horror films, and it conveys a great sense of dread throughout the film, because no one is safe.

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