31 Days of Reviews: State of Emergency (2013)

After an explosion at a nearby chemical plant, Jim has to protect himself and his comrades from the infected.

This movie has been on my list on Netflix for a while now. My brother watched it before me, and he didn’t like it so much, so I definitely put it off. What a better time to watch it than now?

I went into this movie thinking it was a zombie film. After watching it, I can definitely say that it’s more of an infection film, similar to 28 Days Later and The Crazies. It really doesn’t mention anything zombie-like except in one scene where a character says he witnessed his infected neighbor eating his wife. That’s honestly the only occurrence. The rest of the movie simply shows that the infected have visible signs of infection (discolored skin and bright red eyes), increased aggression, they run, and in one instance, they can still speak.

The movie starts with a scene that is repeated later on in the movie. I could have dealt without that. I’m kind of tired of showing a scene, and then saying “4 Days Earlier…” before going into the rest of the film. With that being considered, I thought they did this one pretty well. The film starts with our main character Jim (Jay Hayden) holding a gun down a stairwell, while his friend Scott (Scott Lilly) is holding a door shut. They share a knowing nod before Scott runs to the top of the stairs. Jay aims the gun at the door, anxiously waiting for whatever is behind it to come bursting through. Cut to black.

I really liked how this opening sequence put the viewer right in the thick of things, but didn’t spoil the surprise. That’s usually the big bummer of starting a movie at the end. The viewer already knows what happens. I appreciated the fact that this movie didn’t do that. The opening continues pretty well by intercutting the opening credits with another scene that goes without explanation. It really increased the drama. I was super impressed by the beginning of State of Emergency.

While I mentioned previously that this movie is similar to both 28 Days Later and The Crazies, I’ll need to clarify that this isn’t just because of the state of the infected. I saw parallels to The Crazies in that State of Emergency is set in a small, rural area. At one point, Scott looks out the window and remarks that it’s crazy how they could be someone he knows. Add that to the fact that apparently the infected can talk, and you have the potential for some twisted situations. In a similar fashion to 28 Days Later, State of Emergency focuses more on the people in the main cast than on the infected themselves. Since this is a large part of the overall story in this particular movie, I’d say that the connection to 28 Days Later is very strong.

The movie definitely doesn’t have the best foley work. The special effects are definitely low budget, and some of the acting is weak. In terms of camera work and location, there was this one scene that really affected me. It was night, in the middle of a thunderstorm, and Jim was by himself in a barn/stable. He’s heard something in the distance, so he arms himself and prepares to defend his stronghold. He’s in a sort of hallway with stable doors, like where horses would be held overnight, and down this long hallway, the only time you can see if there’s anything in front of you is if there’s a flash of lightning. I was on the edge of my seat. I was just waiting for something to be at the end of the hall.

One thing I do appreciate about State of Emergency is that it’s a closed story. The movie explains why the infection happened, and it has a happy ending where the problem is solved. While I do appreciate that fact, this also can be construed as a negative for the movie. It’s very small-scale and very specific. It doesn’t leave enough open to interpretation to really stand out in the hoard of zombie/infected films. It’s similarities to 28 Days Later on top of this fact makes it stand out even less.

That being said, I would recommend this movie for at least a one time watch. There aren’t a lot of scares, but it was fun for a quick watch. For the fans of zombie movies, know going into it that it’s more of an infection movie. I know this can cause arguments with those who are very rigid about the difference.

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