It felt for a while that this film would be in a permanent state of flux and never be released. Generally this never bodes well for its production values and overall receptiveness.
While it doesn’t necessarily blow your mind, Patient Zero does stand taller than your average straight-to-video release.
A lot of this has to do with its lead Matt Smith, a still underrated actor who is perpetually trying to shake his EleventhDoctor (Doctor Who) persona that lifted him to the spotlight. As it so happens, this film was supposed to pave his way into distancing himself from his iconic role and enter the film industry. Thankfully Smith landed another role that he has made his own as Prince Philip in The Crown in the interim.
All this is background fodder to Smith’s career path, but the fact that Patient Zero faltered in its cinema release shouldn’t deter people away from watching it, as it is a fairly stable narrative with enough of its own identity in an already clouded zombie horror genre.
Smith plays Morgan, a guy who was caught in his car with his wife when the outbreak occurs and lynched upon by the infected. Both he and his wife were bitten, but somehow, Morgan didn’t turn and is now able to communicate with the infected as a result.
Now holed up in a base that contains survivors and is run by the military in a Day of the Dead style scenario, Morgan utilises his gift to interrogate the infected with the curious aid of classic vinyls. (Apparently music has an intense effect on the psyche of the infected and as such Morgan uses this as a form of torture device in order to get information.) The aim is to find and locate patient zero and to snuff out the virus in order to save humanity.
Smith is an affable leading man and holds his own both physically and mentally on screen, with plenty of decent dialogue to chew on, allowing him the freedom to move and play with his role, including a love triangle between his wife, (still alive, but quarantined) and virologist Dr. Rose, portrayed by Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer.
Comedy support is brought in the form of fellow GOT actor John Bradley and the steely, play-it-by-the-book Colonel Knox (Clive Standen) channeling Rhodes with every ounce of determination to shut down the testing facility, brings the early inner conflict to the team.
It’s the arrival of Stanley Tucci however when things get really interesting. Tucci is The Professor, an infected zombie brought in for questioning but appears to be immune to all the known tricks. He hams it up to the nth degree, but delightfully keeps it under the right side of believability and feeds off Smiths lines effortlessly.
His arrival spells a significant turning point in the movie and propels the drama on to a suitable conclusion that mildly satisfies.
It’s an apocalyptic zombie survival movie that offers enough of a difference to make it worth a watch, but doesn’t deliver enough bite to keep you salivating, slipping all to easily into safe and predictable territory.
- Saul Muerte