A deadly pathogen is unleashed and unknowingly carried to Dana's Overbeck's 30th birthday party, where her estranged father, Rufus, is coming to make amends. What begins as a family drama soon escalates to a horrific turning point as the epidemic spreads and Rufus fights to save his daughter's life.
The opening scenes (apart from a brief, foreboding snippet) offer the obligatory introduction to our main cast, as well as give us a bit of background into the personal lives of the characters. I actually found the introductory act rather relatable as it mirrored my own life experiences and I'm sure a plethora of others too; a distant, alcoholic father (Andrew Hunsicker as Rufus) trying to reconnect with his estranged child (Dana, played by Amanda K. Morales) through her significant other. Not exactly Shakespeare, but very much a modern-day drama that many can relate to. Estranged dad is invited to a party that no one really wants him to be attending and although he knows this to be true, he's doing it for a chance to improve that strained relationship. I may be harking on a bit about the family thing, but this plot really struck a nerve for me.
What happens next is pretty obtuse — there's some chemical spillage in a sealed basement that somehow spreads to one of our leading ladies, Mandi (Gina Destra), and then to the rest of the guests. Needless to say, things cascade downward. Oblivious to the goings-on at the house, one-by-one, the cast is infected by something we are not privy to. Dad rescues the daughter from the party, unaware of the damage his actions are about to cause.
The film has a decent pace with plenty of gore and gruesome deaths, but I did find it lacking in authenticity. The makeup was really cool and pretty creepy and the effects were good enough, with copious amounts of pus and vomit all over the place. The acting was a little forced though, with certain scenes losing scare value thanks, in part, to that lack of believability on the part of the actors. Andrew's Rufus was the exception, doing a pretty good job portraying the unreliable alcoholic, but the others were often hit and miss.
*Minor Spoilers Ahead — skip paragraph to avoid*
The biggest miss for me was that I often caught myself asking, why? ...or perhaps mouthing, WTF? I've been at parties before where people have been hurt or injured and without fail, they've been taken to a clinic or hospital by the person most sober. Likewise, when coming across a corpse (or in this case, corpses), one generally informs the authorities...right? Rufus find's his daughter amidst a clump of bodies and instead, drags her off to a motel to...look after her while she becomes increasingly more ill? Que? He'd done nothing wrong, so why wouldn't he simply call the cops or take his daughter to a doctor?
As the film moves into its final act, we are still left with more questions than answers. The plot gets darker and a bit more twisted, which is something I personally welcome, but by now you realize that the film you thought you were going to see is not the one that has just played out before your eyes. Epidemic is more a family drama than your typical Cabin in the Woods styled horror, with the virus or pathogen, while technically very real, also being a metaphor for the toxic relationships within the film's characters. Epidemic isn't trying to tell a horror story; it's a personal struggle with broken people, framed in the context of a horror film.
Was it done well though? That's really open to interpretation. I don't mind there being a message to my horror film, but that message needs to be interwoven impeccably. I don't always want a hidden meaning or thoughtful themes forced into my movies, especially when I'm sitting down and looking forward to a viral-outbreak film. That said, I'd be a fool for not taking a minute to applaud the director and the cast for trying to push the envelope and do something a little more avant-garde.
All in all, I'd have to say that I enjoyed the film although I did find myself asking too many questions rather than just enjoying the ride. The film is sometimes indecisive as to what kind of movie its trying to be, which was excusable as it does stay entertaining. Andrew Hunsicker really carried the rest of the cast and gave a good performance. I'd really only recommend this one if it's a genre you enjoy and you don't mind a lower-budget film. Catch the trailer below, thanks for reading, and as always — stay sordid.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.