Studio: Fangoria Presents
Director: J.T. Boone, John Craddock
Writer: J.T. Boone
Producer: John Craddock
Stars: Michael Flores, Marguerite Mitchell, Bernard Setaro Clark, Mark Chiappone, Jody Pucello
A crashed satellite unleashes an alien germ that turns the residents of Preachers Mill into bloodthirsty cannibals.
When “Redd Inc.” was picked up for distribution in the USA, “Fangoria Presents” re-titled the film as “Inhuman Resources,” which does have a bit more bite. “Fangoria Presents” has similarly tried beefing up the attractiveness of “Germ” by adding a letter and renaming it “Germ Z.” Undoubtedly, the intention is to give “Germ” an association with the evergreen sub-genre of “zombie,” which is completely understandable from a marketing perspective, although not entirely on target for fans of reanimated corpses.
This is not quite the Romero living dead versus the “28 Days Later” infected argument either, since that still implies some style of zombie. Although those afflicted in “Germ Z” are more accurately described by the latter classification.
When a satellite crashes into a nearby forest, it unleashes an alien germ that turns the infected residents of Preachers Mill into bloodthirsty cannibals. Other than red corn syrup, the infected wear no makeup, not even a contact lens to change their eye color. These are just regular folk with a sudden craving for human flesh and the ability to sprint ravenously towards their prey. A bite does turn a person into one of them, but they are not the living dead. Or maybe they are. It really is unclear. “Germ Z” has an errant sense of time and pace, and the film expands a cloud of confusion at a rate on par with the spread of germ Z.
First time feature co-directors J.T. Boone and John Craddock could benefit from a tutorial on managing simultaneous story threads. “Germ Z” is all over the place in more than one way, but the most identifiable is the odd sense of timing it has when it comes to checking in on various characters.
Since the second infected attack does not occur until the 40-minute mark, “Germ Z” opens on a chase sequence featuring one man running from a raging cannibal. Following right behind this is a scene of lawman Max meeting his sorta-girlfriend Brooke for a nighttime rendezvous in the forest. Third in this sequence is the military monitoring the end of a satellite’s life cycle as an onscreen graphic adds, “40 Hours Earlier.”
So far, so good. Except this is then followed by a morning scene of Max and Brooke discussing their relationship while lying down in the forest. Is this them 40 hours before their moonlit meeting? It would have to be. Otherwise, what else was the military scene 40 hours earlier than? But if so, they are in the same clothes they will be wearing in two days time. And if not, what was the point of showing them meeting in the woods before the “40 Hours Earlier” sequence? More likely, “40 Hours Earlier” should have come after the first scene of an infected attack and the forest rendezvous was merely out of place.
Brooke’s brother, who does not appear to be referenced by name except in the credits (and only two of the 23 credited actors have pictures on IMDB, so there is no way to identify who played who), has a similarly jumbled timeline. He is first seen when he leaves the parents house to do some nature-related research in the woods. As the infection unfolds, Brooke’s brother is briefly seen trekking into the forest while schlepping a sled. Night falls elsewhere and the rest of the film clearly advances to the next day when the brother is next seen again. He has a small backpack that is not big enough for camping gear, but he is wearing different clothes. Perhaps he slept in the woods even though he indicated to his father that he was only going on a day trip? But after he suffers an attack from an infected fireman, he manages to run back to the house in less time than it takes to blink, so how far away could he have really been?
Brooke and her mystery brother’s parents fall into the same time warp. After their first encounter with the infected, father Stu screams at his wife to retreat to the house, which they do. “Germ Z” then jumps to another thread. When the parents are next seen four minutes later, they are only then entering the house. The distance from where they were in the backyard to their backdoor was maybe 10 yards, so only poor editing can explain why it took four minutes to cover that length.
Faulting the editor for the plentiful timing and pacing issues would be ignoring the more important issue of “Germ Z” not knowing what it is doing in general. After the outbreak turns part of the town into mindless flesh eaters, the humans who are not afflicted begin madly running around themselves without any stated purpose or discernible goal.
As infected overrun the family home, Stu pleads with Brooke to make an escape into the woods while he and his wife stay behind to battle the cannibals. Why Brooke would run into the woods, which is the source of the downed satellite causing the outbreak, is another question entirely. But she does so anyway, and luckily encounters a military man who wants her help in reaching a vehicle to call the Army. Meanwhile, Max aimlessly drives the roads, finds Brooke’s little sister Steph, and leaves her in his car outside the police station. Good thing too, because Steph’s father Stu has run into town for no apparent reason and can now rescue his daughter when he miraculously stumbles across her. Preachers Mill is either the size of my bathroom or the entire population can be counted on two hands. Otherwise, the ability with which everyone seems to trip over each other when no one is trying to go anywhere in particular is staggering.
As mentioned earlier, these cannibals are not exactly zombies, and the lack of makeup reflects as much. There are a few scenes of flesh being bitten, except skin is never shown being torn from the body. Dangling chunks are already in the infected’s mouths in these shots, so gorehounds do not even have visuals to redeem the pointless story.
And pointless really is the simplest term to describe “Germ Z.” No one seems to be on a path of counteracting the germ or the infected. It is a lot of aimless running around and nothing about the outbreak itself sustains any interest. Without a unique look to the afflicted as a consolation, watching “Germ Z” is about as pointless as the non-extant character motivations. Unless going anywhere or doing anything simply because the script said so is considered an acceptable motivation.
Review Score: 25