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A deadly infection breaks out in Manhattan, causing humans to devolve into blood-thirsty rat creatures. Six recently evicted tenants must survive the night and protect their downtown apartment building as the city quickly spirals out of control. Written by
Not only a good Horrorfest title, but a good horror movie in general
Mulberry Street was the next stop on my ride through Horrorfest. This is not only the entry that I've been most looking forward to, but the movie that made me want to go to any of the Horrorfest movies at all. And I'm happy to say that it fully lived up to my expectations.
Before I begin the review, I will be hyping this movie. In short and up front, I loved it and it scared me. If you don't think it will scare you from what you may have read about it until now, then see it on my words. Or read the whole review, which will (once again) hype it up, and hopefully you'll still enjoy it as much as I did. Moving along...
The movie takes place in Manhattan, and people are being attacked by rats. First small incidents here and there take place, then those who have been bitten begin to degenerate into a rat-like form (It's a little mix of 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, and... well, Rat Creatures.) 6 tenants of an old apartment complex that has been marked for demolition (as part of an urban renewal program) try to make it through the onslaught of rat people that now prowl the streets, walls, and every ware in between. I know, sounds like a cross between a B-Movie, Willard, and a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie, but it's actually really good.
To begin with, the characters are excellent, for several reasons. They aren't super-hot teens or stereotypes or anything you'd normally find in a horror movie. They're just regular people, the kind you'd find in, well, the more average part of the big city. They are acted like regular people, don't have any outstanding abilities (ones a former boxer, his daughter is coming back from a vet center after fighting in Iraq (a small subplot of the film is her attempting to get to the apartment complex during all the chaos), and that's about it). And finally, these people don't act like morons or anything. They act like you or me would act in situations like that. Plus, the character development is great. You really start to care for these people (especially the two old guys sharing an upstairs apartment. Love those two), and you want them to make it.
The atmosphere is great. Part of the time it's rather claustrophobic, with the tiny apartments crammed with space, or the restaurants and bars that are shoved into spaces that are half the size of regular shops. Downtown New York City buildings, essentially. The lighting is real and not too bright, and helps build tension. The creatures (or mutated people, or whatever you want to call them) look pretty scary, but you never get a really good look at them (I'll chalk that up to the limited budget of this film. Which is another thing, this film had a tiny budget, and that it pulled off so much is pretty amazing). The music is just right, and climaxes at just the right points.
Finally, this film is scary. I mean really scary. I haven't been genuinely freaked about by a film in a ling time (I mean, I love the Saw movies, but I find them interesting rather than scary. And 1408 had me shaking, but nothing heavy. Hell, August Underground and Cannibal Holocaust were just learning experiments, nothing more). It had some jump scares, but it kept getting freaky even after the jump. It stuck with you, and your were nervous when nothing was happening. It's good stuff when a movie pulls that off. I really haven't been this freaked out by a movie since The Shining (albeit I only first saw The Shining only a couple years ago, but still...)
Not to say there weren't some parts that could've been better. The ending (literally, the last minutes) was a bit open-ended, and not satisfying enough. The quality of the film could have been better, as it seemed pretty grainy at parts (I'm not sure how this film was shot, and I'm sure it once again had to do with budget limitations or the like). And... well, I can't really think of anything else. I've heard some negative remarks about the camera-work (in the moments of action and heavy movement, it goes to a more hand-held, shaky variety. Kinda stays this way throughout the second half of the movie, really), but I don't think it was nearly as bad as people say. It's a little jarring and annoying the first time it's used, but you get used to it. and soon you don't even notice the difference.
So, in conclusion, I love this film. It was about as good as low-budget horror films can get. Not only do I believe that this is the best film of Horrorfest (I've only seen Unearthed and Tooth and Nail so far, but the others have some big shoes to fill), I believe that it's one of the best horror movies I've seen in a few years. Being on the limited run that it is, it won't get the wide audience that it deserves, but if you get a chance to watch it, watch it. You will enjoy it, and it will scare you.
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