The Plague (Hal Masonberg) 2007

The Plague is a movie with a troubled production history. Director Masonberg wanted to make a horror movie about themes and characters kind of like how Rosemary’s Baby is about a woman’s sacrificial role in society. He shopped it around hoping to find someone interested in making his movie instead of a crappy gore flick. Masonberg was surprised when Clive Barker of all people expressed an interest and hired him for the movie. Shortly after production started the movie was sold off, and after shooting was completed Masonberg was kicked out of the editing room. The movie was chopped to hell and made into a generic zombie flick.

The movie is about some plague that affects all children under 9 years old (and all newborns). They are put in a catatonic state which they can’t wake up from. Cut to 10 years later and the world has turned to crap. Tom Russell (James Van Der Beek) is coming home from prison at the same time the children come out of their comas. The children wake up and want to kill all the adults.

So this movie is kind of like an attempt to be Children of Men coupled with Village of the Damned. Kinda. The movie, as presented in the producers cut, blows. Most of that can be attributed to the fact the movie was chopped to its bare bones to be a killer zombies with guns movie. Because of that, most of the story is cut out and we are left with big gaping mysteries in their place. Like Van Der Beek’s character has this shady past which is supposed to be a big factor for decisions he makes later in the movie, but its gone. We are never told what the plague is or why it does what it does. There are hints of the fact it is punishment from god but nothing more. The characters find a diary from a priest which explains…something about what the kids want which leads to a climax where I don’t know what the f*ck happens. I’m not normally that dense, the movie is just incredibly vague due to the fact key scenes were cut out. I shouldn’t be confused by a killer zombies with guns movie but I had to review the final scene several times before I could even have an inkling about what it was about. Suffice it to say this movie was raped in post production.

Now that being said, even if I saw the Director’s Cut (which there is an online petition for at spreadingtheplague.com) I don’t think the movie would be transformed to Children of Men level film making. With the footage I did see, there were some problems with it. For one, the theme isn’t realized quite the way it should be. The theme is about how children are a reflection of our society and us. There is a disconnect and fear growing due to incidents like Columbine and whatnot. One of the characters even flat out says the kids are a reflection of the adults violent behavior. Well, that doesn’t quite work when all the parents we see in the movie are some of the most loving parents ever. When the kids go into a coma, all the parental characters we see are devastated by it. They dedicated all their time to caring for kids which have no hope of waking up and spend their fortunes on trying to cure them. That doesn’t exactly sound like parents who have lost touch with their kids and have an irrational hate for them now does it?

There is also a problem with the acting. Many of you may think James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) would be the worst part of this movie but he actually does a good job. I daresay he is the best actor in the movie. But that just shows how crappy every other actor in this movie is. Seriously, they must have raided community theaters for miles around to find actors this hammy and broad. They have terrible line reads and their attempts to emote make Van Der Beek seem like he was giving a Matt Damon Academy Award crying scene.

If we did get the director’s cut, I’m sure The Plague would be a good Direct to Video horror movie. As it is right now, it really isn’t worth your time. Yeah, it is a bit entertaining seeing zombie kids with guns, but that doesn’t carry the movie. It comes off more lame than funny camp. It is not horrible, but it is pretty bad.

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2 Responses to “The Plague (Hal Masonberg) 2007”

  1. halmasonberg Says:

    Thanks for helping spread the word on what happened to this film. As you know, the version you saw is, in no way, shape, or form, the film we made. It was re-cut, first frame to last, by Jorge Saralegui and many of the other producers involved. No creatives were present in the editing room. As a result, not only was the story I set out to tell completely destroyed, but the actors’ performances as well. In their defense, when an actor performs for a film, they do so with the full knowledge that their performance can be dramatically altered. The takes chosen, the way in which it’s edited together, the pacing, the rhythm, everything can be altered. While I’m thrilled you enjoyed van Der Beek’s performance here, I have to come to the defense of the other actors whose performances were shredded. Dee Wallace has been almost completely removed from the film and what’s left of her performance was grossly mishandled. It does not represent the work she did. The same goes for John Connolly, Brad Hunt, Brad Sawatzky, Josh Close, on and on. The film they signed on to do and the performances they gave in the telling of that story are not present in the producers’ cut of the film. I felt it important to state that here in their defense. The producers who put this film together in post knew as much about editing as a baker knows about building a skyscraper. The result destroyed the performances of all those involved, both in front of as well as behind the camera.

  2. halmasonberg Says:

    You may find this side-by-side comparison of the two cuts interesting:

    http://halmasonberg.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/the-art-of-film-editing-the-plague-of-ego/

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