We've gotten some pretty stellar stuff from France when it comes to horror here in the US. The mind boggling "Martyrs". The atmospheric "Inside". The brutal "Frontier(s)". What we haven't really had was a zombie flick from this country of new found Horror awesomeness. Now we do. "Mutants" is the French version of "28 Days Later" done in the modern aspect of the genre with its sleek visuals and reluctance to say the word 'zombie'. Granted, its prospect seems to be more than the film can handle at times, but "Mutants" does get the job done.
Sonia (Fougerolles) and her big man Marco (Renaud) are on the run to escape the escalating 'mutant' population that wants them for supper. Using a (stolen, perhaps?) ambulance, the couple find themselves stranded in a large building in the middle of a snow riddled forest. A supposed haven for survivors seems to be their only salvation as the 'mutants' close in and other survivors fight to continue living. Only to make matters more complicated, Marco is starting to show signs of an imminent change...one for the worse.
As was mentioned, "Mutants" heavily pulls from Boyle's modern zombie opus "28 Days Later". I'm sorry, I mean INFECTED opus. With sleek modern style visual work and an uncanny use of silence to counteract its more heinous and viscous attacks, this film really pushes its visual style up to the forefront. If you aren't a fan of that modern shaky camera style and quick editing though this might be a chore to watch at times.
Also it's cool abandoned building setting in the wintry woods is a great setting, but I constantly felt like they didn't use it properly. Why aren't the characters colder? Shouldn't the elements be just as deadly as the creatures and other people? It's as if the filmmakers used it for its awesome look rather than a great plot point that it could have been.
The film is hit or miss on most of the other aspects too. The acting is good at times but occasionally falls into cliche too much (Renaud as Marco is the highlight) and its plot, watching a loved one fall prey to the infection, takes forever to really get going. It's a plot point that is common in zombie, err...INFECTED movies and although it made for a nice character build for our main heroine, it never takes it quite as far as it needed.
Visually, "Mutants" is a pretty slick film. It looks snazzy and its interesting to see a modern zombie film from France with its brutality and great special effects, but it rarely seems to go where it needed to for its plot to be as effective as it wanted. It looks good and for what it is, "Mutants" is a fun watch. Take it as that though as its not as deep as it could have been.
BONUS PRAISE: The opening sequence is purely French horror at its finest. I won't give it away, but its one of those nice builds to a surprisingly brutal scene that this modern French horror scene is known for. A great start to a film that seemingly falls from there.
Written By Matt Reifschneider