Patient Zero: What’s a Zombie Film?

November 7, 2018
That’s right, producer Vincent Newman reckons that his thriller is not of that sub-genre, though director Stefan Ruzowitzky isn’t so adamant, when we spoke to them both on the set more than two years ago.

“It’s never been a Zombie Film,” Vincent Newman continues. “It’s not so much to not be something, as much as to truly be what we are, which is a species, that is born out of real science. So, it’s just trying to be true to ourselves, and it’s hard because…it is a new creature. People often don’t know what to refer to it as, so it’s easy to call it a “ghoul” or another term that they used before, but I can guarantee you, after this film, people will be calling other creatures, “Infecteds”. At least, that’s what I hope.”

When we visited the set in late 2015, hopes were high that this original story by screenwriter Mike Le would take off, however, it is coming straight to the home in Australia, bypassing cinema release and streaming platforms. And even more annoying, its “five minutes into the future” scenario, as Newman coins it, is now history. “The story takes place in 2017. So, technically, it’s two years into the future, but it’s in our world, so it’s not an alternate universe, it’s not in a future tense, from a science fiction standpoint.”

Patient Zero features an A-list cast in Matt Smith, Natalie Dormer, Stanley Tucci and Clive Standen and is directed by Austrian filmmaker Stefan Ruzowitzky, who won an Academy Award for the Holocaust drama The Counterfeiters but is most associated with genre filmmaking, specifically the 2000 German horror film Anatomy, which to this day remains Germany’s highest grossing horror film.

Ruzowitzky was keen to get behind an English language genre film and was attracted to the metaphor behind Patient Zero.

“I’m not going to come up with them, because then it will read, ‘The Infected are like I.S.’ But of course, all this comes into mind – a group who feel superior, and feel entitled to go around and kill. But these are elements, as an audience, that you might interpret it this way, or another way, but it’s not that simple to say ‘The Infected equals a political group’. But also that element that’s all about rage, which I think is something that makes a lot of sense, nowadays, because we are in a society where there is this rage, and people don’t know exactly what they hate, or are angry about, but it’s just basic anger, against anything, and this is how we explain where all this is coming from, and they are just full of rage, and full of anger, and just go and kill whoever they don’t like. So, of course, I try to make a movie that makes sense in 2015/16, and picks up things that are in the air, without saying ‘well, this is this, and this means that’. That’s up to you guys, once the movie’s out, to interpret, to say “what did he want to do?’”

One thing that Ruzowitzky did want to do is introduce a new type of monster to the film, which included unique ideas around wardrobe and movement influenced by Parkour “This is not a Zombie movie, but something different,” he repeats Vincent Newman’s sentiments. “Our monsters are very energetic, they are smart. They have a blood lust, and they are high on adrenaline, but at the same time, they are sexy, energetic, fast, and the idea is they are pumped up full of adrenaline, so they don’t know fear, they don’t know pain. It’s not “Parkour” with all this fancy rolling, but just people who go for their prey and jump from heights that a normal human would not dare to jump from. But their bloodlust drives them. This is just one element of showing that our “Infected” are completely different from Zombies. They are fast, energetic, they look cool and sexy. Because that’s part of the story, that at the end, they’ll learn that they aren’t just sick monsters like the Zombies, but they have self-esteem, and they see themselves as a superior…not race, but form of life, and so they dress up in a certain style, and they should be attractive in a way. We’re hoping that people will dress up as “Infected” for Halloween, two years from now!”

Patient Zero is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital.



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