|release date||September 5 2006|
|starring||James Van Der Beek, Ivana Milicevic, Brad Hunt and Dee Wallace Stone|
In The Plague, James Van Der Beek stars as Tom, an ex-con forced to deal with an onslaught of teenaged zombies. Van Der Beek sports 6 days worth of facial hair and greasy, Varsity Blues hair, and he coveys enough glowering looks to make a Full Metal Jacket-era Vincent D’Onofrio jealous.
Early on in The Plague we learn that all of the children younger than age 9 suddenly and inexplicably lapse into a deep coma that is accompanied by twice-hourly seizures. Parents, holding unconscious children in their arms, pack hospital waiting rooms. 80% of the children nationwide are placed in full-time care facilities to have vanilla pudding constantly jammed into their slack, comatose faces. All children born over the next 10 years are apparent vegetables, perpetually staring off into space with glazed eyes. A nationwide ban on childbirth is considered and the future extinction of the human race seems suddenly possible.
10 years after the initial indicators of this mysterious “plague”, the children (now teenagers) arise as one from their collective coma and begin staggering around in a violent stupor, murdering adults at will. Enter the aforementioned Tom, sporting the requisite wife-beater and jailhouse tats, who leads a random group of townsfolk through the intense, teeny-bopper zombie mélange in an attempt to escape the city, or to kill all the zombies, or something. Much like some choices made in Van Der Beek’s acting career, Tom’s ultimate plan for success against the zombies is hazy and poorly-explained.
Honestly, Van Der Beek tries to take charge of this Clive Barker-produced (sorry, kids, he didn’t come within 10 miles of the script) independent film, and for the most part, he succeeds. Still attempting to shake his squeaky-clean, hyper-nerdy roots as the WB’s Dawson, Van Der Beek doesn’t have a huge screen presence, but if he really wants to he can bring just enough to the table to carry a decent B-movie; as far as straight-to-DVD is concerned, he’s no Treat Williams, but he stomps all over Casper Van Diem. His co-star, Ivana Milicevic (Running Scared), simultaneously over- and under-acts her way through the entire film; I know, it sounds weird, but trust me: she’s all over the map.
The gore is minimal, since the teenage zombies’ main method of killing is to place their hands gently over a victim’s face and suck the life out of them with their hands. Still, the film is coherently plotted, edited, and shot, which is a lot more than you can say for some of the B-horror being released these days. But even as the premise of The Plague continues to titillate and intrigue, the film can’t quite deliver on its promise, rendering it slightly entertaining and ultimately forgettable.