Studio: Screen Media Darkside
Director: Glenn Ciano
Writer: Glenn Ciano, Robert Rotondo Jr.
Producer: Chad A. Verdi, Gino Pereira, Noah Kraft
Stars: Michael Madsen, William Forsythe, Christy Romano, Tom DeNucci
A weekend retreat in the woods becomes a battle between humans and infected when a strain of Lyme disease turns people into bloodthirsty savages.
The presence of veteran actors Michael Madsen and William Forsythe are the only things keeping “Infected” from being a completely amateur production. Hope that their performances might pull the movie back from the abyss was the only thing keeping me from turning the movie off, which was a compulsion I had at 60-second intervals. I would like to imagine that the family members held hostage to blackmail Madsen and Forsythe were released after filming completed, but this is the second film Forsythe has done with this production team, so at least he should have known better.
Speaking of family members, keeping track of the characters as well as their relationship to one another is an all-consuming chore in dire need of a scorecard. IMDB’s summary for the film reads: “A blood virus infects a small group of hunters turning a father and son trip into a fight for survival.” “Father and son” refers either to Louis and Andrew or to Edward and Jeremy. Both pairs qualify for the title.
Overpopulating the male bonding weekend are Jessica, a girl Andrew fancies, and her brother Seth. They appear to be sharing a cabin in the woods with a girl named Kelly and her grandmother Annie. After meeting a girl named Sera and her infected father, Louis’ pregnant wife Angela makes her way to the cabin, too. So does someone named Matt. Who everyone is and why they all need to be there are questions even the hooker and john who briefly show up to shag in the woods could not answer.
Still speaking of family members, the actors for this who’s who panoply seem to have been pulled from an assortment of aunts, cousins, friends, and various passersby. Or maybe there was a Kickstarter campaign to fund this movie where a contribution of any amount garnered a Producer credit and/or a starring role, as a total of 55 names are credited under “Cast.”
“Infected” has the distinction of being “a Chad A. Verdi film,” even though it was directed by Glenn Ciano. I have no idea what that means. I am trying to imagine a Steven Spielberg-directed movie opening with the credit, “A Chester J. Lampwick Film.”
A bit of research into “The Woodhaven Production Company” provides several “aha” moments that shed light on certain elements of the film. Of the four actors with a title card, only one has not appeared in an Emmy-nominated TV series. Four of Tom DeNucci’s six acting credits on IMDB are for Woodhaven productions. Woodhaven sees their money’s worth with DeNucci, however, as he is also credited as Infected’s Editor and Second Unit Director. He is also slated to write and direct two upcoming Woodhaven features. Whatever his connection to Mr. Verdi, it partly explains why DeNucci receives a pointlessly long vanity montage of him working an iron forge while shirtless both at the beginning and at the end of the film.
Kevin Decristofano, who plays Jeremy, pulls double duty as the Script Supervisor. Chad Verdi Jr. also plays a role, and he is one of the Second Assistant Directors. Creating a drinking game around spotting repeat names or same last names in the credits would be a fast way to die from alcohol poisoning. Casting friends and crewing up with family members is perfectly fine if they are up to the task, but the technical side of “Infected” reeks of amateurism.
An end credit clarifies that “Infected” was shot with a Canon 5D Mark II camera, which is about as redundant as saying the movie was shot in color. No one is in any danger of confusing this for a movie shot on film.
“Infected” should be sold in a two-pack with a bottle of Visine. Although two people are listed in the credits as Camera Assistants, presumably neither was assigned the duty of pulling focus, as many of the shots are softer than cotton candy. If any scene requires movement either towards or away from the lens, it is guaranteed to go out of focus. If two or more people are shown simultaneously, at least one of them will probably be out of focus. If a static shot requires the frame to be anything tighter than head and shoulders, chances are it will be out of focus.
Although the credits say otherwise, no one handled sound effects, either. When two characters interrupt their sexy time to rush out and search for an attack victim, they later explain they were alerted by the man’s screams. Except there were no screams. Painfully feigned punches and headbutts are also deadened further by conspicuously absent thuds.
Sometimes the missing audio holds hands with poorly edited jump cuts. One woman is seen pulling into a lot via long shot. Cut to a girl peeking around the corner and the car is heard going into park along with the pop of a door opening. Then cut immediately back to the car with its door closed and the woman standing several feet away from it. How she silently closed the door and took all those steps in half a second is another mystery for that hooker and john to answer.
Production gaffes can be overlooked when the story makes up for technical shortcomings. Yet worse than the script’s unoriginality is the ambling pace it takes on the path of boredom. “Infected” had enough of a budget to draw two recognizable faces, but the production is built around an uninteresting story and the inability to make even a run-of-the-mill zombie movie tolerable. With any luck, “Infected” will make the list of worst movies when the year comes to an end. Because the thought that 10 worse movies await that could displace this one is truly depressing.
Review Score: 10