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By Mark Bell | July 6, 2013

Filmmaker Olivier Mamet’s short film, Journal of an Epidemic, introduces us to another apocalyptic scenario where a virus, unchecked, has spread and decimated humanity. Playing out like the short intro to a much larger story, the short tells us, via voice over by Luke Atencio, the history of the virus and the damage it has done.

With a short film like this, it brings up questions about the filmmaker’s intention. As a technical showpiece, particularly for an editor, I think the short film is very strong. The score is great, and the visual effects work proclaim a deft, skilled hand. On the story side, though, there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before.

The apocalypse is a popular subject, and the idea of a viral outbreak causing said apocalypse is also something that’s gotten quite a bit of attention. The structure of this short reminds me of the trailer for 28 Days Later…, visual moments reminiscent of comic book favorite Y: The Last Man and story elements hearkening from I Am Legend to, most recently in the realm of video games, The Last of Us. I’m sure I could find more similarities to other pieces without thinking too hard about it, but you get my point.

Which brings us back to intention. If the story has been done before, save a slight variation on viral detail and outcome, then why was this short film made, especially considering it is less than five minutes long? What are we supposed to get out of it? Because all I got out of it is that the filmmaker knows how to put together a good opening to an arguably derivative feature film that we didn’t see.

If this was made to entice investors for a feature film, for example, I’d hope these skills were put to use on a less commonplace narrative. Show Journal of an Epidemic to the right people as a showpiece or reel, and I think you could get some work out of it. The chops are all there. But was that the filmmakers intention?

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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