You know the drill: society is plagued by violent, cannibalistic attacks from a section of the population infected with a strange virus. Those that are bit, but survive an attack, become infected too. The infected seem to have no real goal than to kill and spread infection.
Hank (Shawn W. Manchester) and Jack (Michael Dubuc) are part of a special forces unit whose main task is to go around and kill any infected they may find. And they’re very good at their job, wiping out infected, and suspected infected, without mercy or hesitation. When their latest job investigating a small town reveals the virus was more than just a random outbreak, however, Hank and Jack find themselves mixed up in a global conspiracy.
Shawn W. Manchester’s short film, The Next Step, plays more like “the first step.” It’s a short film that sets the scene for our heroes, ending in a way that would suggest that there is much more to come. And I’d be okay with that, because this one is fun and gory, as it should be, even if it often prizes style over practicality (if getting bitten is what spreads the virus, I probably wouldn’t fight infected with so much skin showing).
Sure, there’s not much within the narrative that we haven’t seen a variation of in either the Resident Evil films, The Last of Us video game or many other “infected instead of zombies” flicks. It knows what it is, though, which is probably why it can hop right into its storyline without tons of exposition about what the infected are, where they came from, etc. It knows you know, or at least know enough, so why not just get right to the action?
The Next Step doesn’t bring much new to the table, but it has fun with its tale and sets its characters up for a larger adventure, should the filmmakers want to keep going. And I’d check out another story involving Hank and Jack, should it exist. Not because I expect it’ll be all that unique, but because I was entertained enough by this one.
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