Asian Horror. Going from 0 to 60 in a little under three years, the influence of Asian horror films is impossible to ignore given the international success of films such as A Tale of Two Sisters coupled with the tremendous box office earnings of American remakes such as The Ring and The Grudge. With Hollywood seemingly out of original horror ideas and forced to remake grindhouse hits from the seventies it seems as though there is no challenge to the East’s current claim for horror supremacy. Wanting to keep Asian Horror at the top of the horror food chain, super producer Takashige Ichise (The main backer for both “Ringu” and Ju-On) funded six new projects in the hopes of creating the next international blockbuster. The first of these projects released by Lions Gate Films is “Infection” which may not reach the heights of “Ringu” or “A Tale of Two Sisters” but nevertheless manages to remain creepy and effective for most of its running time.
In a run down hospital under repair, a skeleton crew of doctors and nurses try their best to deal with an overwhelming number of patients and dwindling supplies. However, while the situation may seem rough for the overworked staff things are about to get a lot worse. During the rush to save a burn victim, the wrong medicine is administered, killing him within seconds. Deciding that one mistake made by an exhausted group of medical workers is not worth their careers the rag tag group of employees agree to cover the accident up. This proves to be harder than they ever anticipated given the surprise appearance of Dr. Akai, (Shiro Sano) an older physician who suspects something is up, and a new patient in the ER whose skin rash will not stop spreading…
For about an hour, “Infection” hits all the right marks and remains a creepy exercise in both physical and psychological horror. The tense first half hour dealing with the mis-diagnosis of the burn victim is slowly drawn into the more supernatural horror of the patient with the rash which causes people to melt. As the various workers are infected with the mystery virus ravaging both their mind and body, their own inner demons come to surface in gruesome incarnations (my personal favorite is one nurse’s solution to the needle shortage…). Where “Infection” derails is in the last half hour where it seems the writers simply didn’t know how to end the story. Several late minute plot twists are more silly than scary and work against the building terror of the preceding hour.
Overall, “Infection” is definitely worth a look. It*s got a nice “Twilight Zone” level story and is told on a minimum budget to maximum effect. Hopefully the rest of Ichise’s new horror films can meet or even surpass the bar set by “Infection” which is in itself a welcome addition to the world of Asian Horror.