Raising a family is tough enough, but throw in a zombie apocalypse, and things can get rather wacky. How do you deal with a hormonal teen girl, an apathetic teen boy, an overly permissive wife, and a rampaging horde of the undead? You’ll have to tune in to Infectious, the family sitcom/ survival horror mashup from Ash Blodgett and Nick Keller that no one asked for, to find out.
The story of the pilot episode revolves around a typical suburban family trapped in an atypical situation. The daughter is going out with her friends, but the dad thinks her outfit leaves her too exposed. We are led to believe that he means her clothing is too revealing, but when a rampaging zombie enters their house, and they fight him off, we realize that she isn’t wearing enough protective clothing.
You might think I spoiled the surprise, but that would have been impossible. Any surprise in Infectious is given away in their synopsis. They spend the whole time building up to a joke they’ve already told you is going to happen. At no point in the entire grueling 4 minutes and 8 second run time does anything happen that you don’t see coming a mile away. At any point in this tortuous tale, you could pause the video, write down how the rest of the story goes, and I guarantee you at least an 82.983476198% chance of being correct. This is a comedy utterly devoid of any surprises.
“…a rampaging zombie enters their house, and they fight him off…”
Now I’m sure someone else has put this idea more eloquently and succinctly than I will, but I’m a firm believer in the 2/4 rule of comedy. To put it simply, any joke (or gag) has four possible components: surprise, context, construction, and delivery. If you have at least two of any four, you’ve got a joke. Infectious has, at best, one component – context. Everyone understands how family sitcoms and zombie movies operate, so these elements don’t have to be explained. But that’s it. They give away their surprise in the synopsis, and the construction is little more than cut-and-paste story beats. As for the delivery, it’s, well… bless their hearts.
The cast tries their best to deliver the “bad” acting inherent in the sitcom oeuvre and wildly overshoots their mark. Is there anything more painful than intentionally bad acting? Unless you don’t think… maybe they weren’t trying to be deliberately lousy? Well, this is awkward.
The absolute best thing I can say about what Blodgett and Keller created is that it isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. What is truly depressing about the pilot episode of Infectious is what a great idea it is. Combining the common tropes of a family sitcom and a zombie story seems fertile ground for a truly subversive comedy.
The execution, however, is where Infectious fails. But, someday, someone will make this idea work, and we will all clap, laugh, and cringe with joy. It is too good an idea not to be made. If the creators are reading this, please work on another draft quickly before someone beats you to the punch.
"…family sitcom/ survival horror mashup..."