Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005) 1 brain1 brainhalf brain

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Yes, this movie rips off the title of the third of Romero's Dead trilogy, Day of the Dead. I never did quite figure out if/how directors Ana Clavell and James Glenn Dudelson intended this movie to actually tie back to the Dead trilogy, but it's a stand-alone story, so it was probably just for the name recognition. The main reason I was watching it was because Goatdog's cousin was rumored to be in it, as a zombie, or a soldier, or some other spearholder. I fully expected an hour and a half of boredom/torture. We never did see Goatdog's cousin, but we did see a nice, solid film.

The film is mostly set in a psychiatric hospital, in which works the kindly Dr. Donwynn (Stephan Wolfert). He and a work crew of patients stumble across a thermos in a nearby ravine one day, and they bring it back to the hospital to examine it. Dr. Donwynn has some suspicions about the object and decides not to open it, but one of the patients has already gone ahead. A mysterious virus is released, and the people that are standing nearby begin to change over the next couple of days. One of the group, Isaac (Justin Ipock), is checking out of the hospital at the end of the week, and he's worried about whether his relationship with Emma (Laurie Baranyay), another patient, will last until she gets out a couple of months later. That question becomes academic, though, as some patients (and doctors and orderlies) in the hospital begin to mutate, and the rest are fighting just to stay alive.

The acting isn't great, but it isn't terrible. The effects ranged from cheesy to quite good, but overall they made a satisfying impression. What really helped this film was the thought put into the story and the characterization, separating it from the other budget gut-munchers. I wouldn't exactly call it atmospheric or gripping, mind you, except perhaps towards the end, but it wasn't a bad way to kill 100 minutes.