Another in a string of Clive Barker adaptations that didn't get the mainstream attention it deserved, The Plague is an interesting take on the zombie film (if you can call it that, as some elements are more zombie-like) that is ultimately mired (or plagued, ah cha cha cha) by a terribly convoluted ending. Despite its flaws, its still a satisfying film, one deserving of much more attention and fanfare than the direct to DVD treatment it received.
The film starts off with a frenzied enough pace, with families rushing their kids to the emergency room. It seems as though young ankle biters the world over are going completely comatose, just before they hit the ripe ol' age of 9. As the parents crowd the emergency room of a small town which is the film's main focus, they lie their kids down on the floor when they start to spaz out, all of them going into convulsions and foaming at the mouth. Truly creepy stuff from the onset and it only gets more so later.
Flash forward about 10 years and the same kids are still in a state of being conked out. In the gymnasium of the local high school, beds are lined on either side with kids hooked into IV's and wearing the requisite hospital attire. Looked on by attending nurses and their doctors, no one can figure out why these kids continue to be in a coma despite being in tip-top shape.
The story continues as one of the former townsfolk has come back after being released from jail (played by none other than Mr. Dawson's Creek himself, James Van Der Beek). Now I know what you are thinking, 'The F-ing Beek?' This guy loses all cred. He's really not the real star of the show anyways. Anywhos, he comes back to town to make amends for what he did (we learn that in a drunken rage, he killed a man at a local bar) and he shows up on the front door step of his uncle's home. He invites him in and leads him upstairs where his son resides. He also fell victim to the random coma virus but his father refused to hospitalize him, instead caring for him at home. As the film continues to evolve, we come to find out that Van Der Beek isn't the only one hiding or trying to make amends for a shameful past.
Inexplicably, one day all of the kids just decide to wake up. In one of the most spine tingly shots in a film that I've seen in recent memory (the other being the initial home invasion sequence in Inside), the attending nurse is at her desk in the gym, filling out paperwork. She gets the heebie jeebies and almost expects the kids to be awoken from their slumber when she pops her head up, but nada. As she puts her head back down to continue her work, she again gets the willies and when she lifts her head a second time, the camera pans to show all the kids lined up, staring at her. I think I just peed myself again.
The kids start to run amok through the town, wiping out everyone for what seems to be no rhyme or reason. And its not just standard zombie ripping limbs and eating guts here folks (although there is some of that shenanigans). These kids are hell bent on doling out some pretty brutal vengeance and they do so in spades--breaking necks, choking until eye balls pop out, etc. So why exactly have the kids decided to awake after 10 years and why are they intent on killing nearly everyone in the town? Well, I'm still not entirely sure why. Its a little confusing and hard to follow near the end and you kind of get it, kind of don't. Apparently the director's cut of the film has additional footage. I don't know if it will provide more answers but I will more than likely seek it out.
From my breadth of horror movie watching experiences, this film is wholly original. Some pretty intense moments with enough Night of the Living Dead crossed with Children of the Corn heebie jeebies to leave you thoroughly creeped out. The Plague was incredibly entertaining despite its flaws at the end. It may piss off most who watch, but overall, the film is still better than most of the schlep thats released nowadays in theaters. Can someone give Clive Barker's work a break? Is this dude plagued or what? OK, I'll stop now.Cortez The Killer