Mexico may very well have a Gareth Edwards to call their own in Los Infectados director Alejandro Alegre. Just as Edwards did with his breakout feature Monsters, Alegre here takes a familiar genre and crafts a remarkably high quality tale on a shockingly low budget by combining raw talent with an eye for character and the ability to tell a very small, intimate story against the backdrop of a convincingly large world.
Los Infectados revolves around Marcos, a thirty something year old man largely unremarkable but for the fact that he managed to escape an epidemic of the undead sweeping through Mexico City - and, indeed, the world - by taking flight and surviving as best he can in the remote hill country. It is there that he meets and takes up with the oafish Renato, young mother Claudia and her young daughter Zoe. The rules to survive are simple. Leave no trace, make no sound and leave no odours behind. The undead, you see, hunt by sound and smell. And no matter how careful Marcos and his group are the undead are ranging farther and farther afield looking for food as the population in the city dwindles. It is only a matter of time before they are found.
While not skimping on set pieces and effects - all of which he created himself - Alegre makes a distinctive mark on the zombie genre by focusing on his characters and the psychology of surviving such an apocalypse. The tensions within the group - Marcos regarding the clumsy and sloppy Renato as a threat to their ongoing survival as well as a sexual rival for Claudia's attention - drive the narrative every bit as much as the struggle to simply survive.
Alegre maximizes his resources - the film having been made for a reported three thousand dollars - through the use of breathtaking natural environments and an eye for composition that makes the film feel far larger than it really is. A seemingly innate ability to manipulate tension and a very skilled knowledge of digital effects allow Alegre to keep the threat of the zombie hordes front and center as well.
A bleak and complex film from a remarkably talented young director let's hope that Los Infectados is only the first step of many for Alegre.
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