“… doesn’t do a whole lot different with the genre, but it deserves a spot near the top for the performances and shear number of emotionally heavy scenes alone.”
When a shipping container full of illegal immigrants arrives in a South Korean city with all but one of the passengers dead, the remaining passenger goes on the run. Meanwhile, anyone who came in contact with the shipping container, and in turn anyone who came in contact with them, starts to show signs of a vicious bird flu with a very short incubation period and an almost certain chance of death. Chaos engulfs the city as citizens begin dropping like flies and the government does everything it can to stop the infection from spreading.
Much like Contagion or Outbreak, Flu is what I like to call a “Biological Horror” film, focusing on terrifying subjects (mainly virus related) that are not too far outside of the realm of possibility. Flu, while not bringing much to the genre, executed it’s story in a very effective and entertaining way; but that’s not to say it didn’t have it’s problems.
The main issue I had with Flu was the pacing. The film, much like other films of the same genre, took it upon itself to introduce the world pre-virus, and then take us through the steps to complete virus-domination. This is fine, and it makes sense for the story, but my problem is that Flu seemed to linger on each one of the steps for a little bit too long. For example, the beginning of the film is just about Kang Ji-koo, an emergency response worker who saves and then falls in love with Kim In-hae. This is fine because it sets up a relationship for the rest of the film, but it takes so long to get there. And then once the virus is finally introduced, we continue having to wait with no real developments in the story. When the virus finally takes hold, the film picks up but then slows down again with the next plot point. This is continued until the credits roll.
Another problem I had with Flu was that the effects were absolutely terrible. Luckily the film didn’t rely too heavily on a lot of special effects, but it still used them somewhat regularly and they always looked like shit. Luckily these sequences were never too long, so they didn’t really impact the feeling of the movie for me. Another issue, one that did have an impact on the movie, was the fact that characters kept getting thrown into the story without being introduced. A scene would change and all of a sudden there would be like three other ‘major players’ in the film none of whom were properly introduced. Of course there are a few throw-away lines that say something to the effect of “Oh, you’re so-and-so”, but that really meant nothing to me as I was still confused. It was also really annoying how often people would cough in each others face, but I know that the virus had to spread somehow.
The thing that makes Flu stand out to me was the huge number of deeply emotional scenes. These weren’t always character driven, but they all got a different reaction from me. It seriously felt like the movie was constantly one-upping itself by delivering gut-punching moments. I also liked the “germ cam” used to show the spread of the virus, but I did feel that it was overused by the third time it appeared. The acting in Flu was also really great. At the beginning of the film everything was very much like a soap opera, but I feel that this was more the fault of the pacing issues that I mentioned before. Once shit started hitting the fan we got some really solid performances by all of the lead characters. There were a few slip-ups here and there with side characters, but much like the CGI it didn’t ruin the overall experience. And seriously, the little girl in this movie might be the cutest thing that I have ever seen.
Overall Flu is a pretty solid epidemic movie. It doesn’t do a whole lot different with the genre, but it deserves a spot near the top for the performances and shear number of emotionally heavy scenes alone.
I give Flu a B