Plague (2015)

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Released 22-Sep-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama/Horror Audio Commentary-Directors Nick Kozakis and Kosta Ouzas
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Plague (6:06)
Featurette-5 EPK Cast and Crew Featurettes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 85:51 (Case: 84)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Nick Kozakis
Kosta Ouzas
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Tegan Crowley
Scott Marcus
Steven Kennedy
Nick Stribakos




Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI ? Music Shaun Smith
Benni Knop


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The world is in ruin; a plague has all but wiped out humanity although some of the infected have been turned into zombies who roam around looking for others to infect. One uninfected group, including Evie (Tegan Crowley), have fled the city and are hiding in an isolated rural shed waiting to be joined by Evie’s husband John (Scott Marcus). But when John has not arrived after some time the group begin to think that he is dead. Most of the group, especially Bob (Nick Stribakos), think it is time to move on to seek safety elsewhere but Evie refuses and the others go, leaving her behind alone. Then, rather miraculously, John arrives; Evie is overjoyed but their situation remains perilous with their supplies running low and zombies roaming around outside and pounding on the walls of the shed at night. John is about to give up when a stranger, Charlie (Steven Kennedy), drives in. Charlie has petrol and supplies. He is a very organised, intelligent and resourceful man who starts to give Evie and John hope that there may be a future. But is he the saviour he seems to be, or is there a price to pay?

     Plague was made in a couple of weeks in basically one location in rural Victoria for $A130,000, the budget all provided by director / editor Nick Kozakis, director / writer Kosta Ouzas and producer Alexandros Ouzas. This film is Kozakis’s and Kosta Ouzas’s feature debut and they have an infectious enthusiasm for the project although the lack of a budget does show. We are never shown what is happening, or has happened, in the wider world, the advent of the plague being reported in the opening voiceover, and the cast is limited to eight speaking parts, some quite small, with some added zombies. The dialogue feels stilted and the film is at its best in the sections where there is little or no dialogue, such as the night scenes with the zombies outside the shed which are tense and scary, delivered with sound effects and “things” half seen. There are a couple of worthwhile frights in the film as well, although it is pretty obvious when they are coming, and gore which is quite bloody and effective because it is not overdone. The one rural location works well too and some of the long shots of the shed and bush are beautifully framed by cinematographer Tim Metherall, but this is a film where the camera constantly wobbles during dialogue scenes, and even on occasion does 360 pans, which can be very distracting.

     Plague is a zombie horror movie that makes of virtue of the limited budget by not concentrating on the external horror and terror. Instead it is a film about the breakdown of society in microcosm, a consideration of rules verses those who act outside of any rules, about working together for the common good or putting self before all else. Once Charlie arrives the film becomes a three handed psychological horror film in which the terrors and dynamics within the group are gradually revealed. There are still threats from the zombies outside of the group and the film offers a number of twists, some of which are obvious although the final twist and the ending is both surprising and psychological sound, layering a satisfying conclusion upon what has gone before.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Plague is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The IMDb does not give the original ratio, but this looks about right.

     Plague is a low budget film shot with digital cameras. Set in winter but shot during January in the middle of the Victorian summer, colours have been slightly washed out giving a blue/ grey tinge to the earlier scenes which at the end become more yellow. Close ups are nicely detailed and some of the static wide-shots of the shed and the bush location look beautiful but all too often the camera is wobbling which affects fine detail. Brightness and contrast does vary, which looks deliberate. Blacks are good and shadow detail allows us to see what the filmmakers want us to see.

     There is some ghosting with movement against the tin shed walls and trees but otherwise artefacts and marks are absent, although the end titles do shimmer.

    There are no subtitles.

     The layer change at 51:55 just after a scene change was noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio options are English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps, English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps or an audio commentary, also Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps.

     The dialogue was clear and always easy to hear and understand. The surrounds and rears are used appropriately. They were often silent but came to life during zombie attacks, with loud crashes off camera, gunshots when Charlie arrived, and an unseen helicopter at the end. The minimalist score is credited to Shaun Smith and Benni Knop. It is effective and, as Knop also did the film’s sound design, it does become part of the overall design. The subwoofer supported the music, the zombie attacks and added general rumbles.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Directors’ Commentary

     Director / editor Nick Kozakis and director / writer Kosta Ouzas chat non-stop about the film. They provide both technical and non-technical information about scripting changes, influences, the location, sound design, their shooting style, make up, editing, cutting down scenes, plot points. This is a good informative commentary although they often say “this is one of my favourite moments” or “I love this” and are rather too keen on their own work.

The Making of Plague (6:06)

     This consists of film and on-set footage plus interview segments with Nick Kozakis, Kosta Ouzas, producer Alexandros Ouzas and cast Tegan Crowley, Scott Marcus and Steven Kennedy. Topics include the filmmakers’ intentions, the setting, genre, characters, having two directors and the make-up. Reasonable.

Cast and Crew Featurettes

     Very much EPK using film clips and interviews with Nick Kozakis, Kosta Ouzas, Tegan Crowley, Scott Marcus and Steven Kennedy. Some of the same information and interview sound bites in the Making of are repeated. The sections are:

     The DVD cover indicates that the film’s trailer is included as an extra but it is not on the disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Plague does not seem to be available elsewhere.

Summary

     With its tiny budget Plague discards full on zombie horror / action for something more interesting; a character study about the breakdown of society in microcosm but with zombies, scares, a few twists and a satisfying conclusion. Certainly worth seeking out for an Australian perspective on the end of the world / zombie genre.

     The video and audio do what is required. The extras are EPK except for the good audio commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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