The Outbreak

October 20, 2019

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While not doing anything new with the concept of an all-consuming virus sweeping the populace, it engages because of the character groundwork laid out in the first act.
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The Outbreak

John Noonan
Year: 2019
Rating: 15+
Director: Pavel Kostomarov
Cast:

Kyrill Käro, Viktoria Isakova, Alexander Robak, Marianna Spivak, Alexander Yatsenko

Released: October 25 – November 17, 2019
Running Time: 91 minutes
Worth: $14.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

While not doing anything new with the concept of an all-consuming virus sweeping the populace, it engages because of the character groundwork laid out in the first act.

While not doing anything new with the concept of an all-consuming virus sweeping the populace, it engages because of the character groundwork laid out in the first act.

A man runs through the snowy wilderness, protected from the cold by the furs on his back. Looking like the very definition of worst for wear, he stumbles into a river before vomiting blood. As far as openings go, it’s certainly one to make you sit up and take notice. It’s also a bit misleading to what The Outbreak is about. Titled Vongozero in its native Russia and based on the book of the same name by Yana Vagner, The Outbreak is less apocalyptic tale and more family-based drama. Think Stephen King’s The Stand but with fewer allegories about God and The Devil.

Set in modern-day Moscow, everyday man Sergei (Kirill Käro) is coming out of a bitter break up with his ex, Ira (Maryana Spivak) – who dangles their son over him like a prize – whilst maintaining a new relationship with his former therapist, Anna (Viktoriya Isakova) and her autistic son, Misha (Eldar Kalimulin). Meanwhile, businessman Lyonya (Aleksandr Robak) is struggling to keep control of his alcoholic and bitter daughter, Polina (Viktoriya Agalakova).

On its own, there’s enough quality melodrama for the audience to dine out on here for months. When Sergei and Lyonya bring their families together for a ‘friendly’ meal, the scene is brilliantly staged as a pantomime of polite small talk masking the disdain certain diners have for each other. It seems obvious that to avoid all future tension, everyone should stay away from each other, but then there’s the superflu that’s running through the country. A virus that sees the government denying all knowledge while simultaneously shutting down schools with children and staff still inside.

While not doing anything new with the concept of an all-consuming virus sweeping the populace, The Outbreak engages because of the groundwork laid out in the first act. Having successfully set up the dynamics of this array of backbiters and genuinely good people, the narrative sees Sergei and his two families, along with Lyonya and his, having to work together as Moscow turns into a plague pit and mysterious armed men attack their homes.

Escaping to the countryside by car, director Pavel Kostomarov manages through the tight confines of their transport to crank up the tension and paranoia that comes with this new diseased territory. Before all this though, Kostomarov teases the oncoming plague in a way that makes it all the more surprising when it finally arrives at Sergei’s doorstep. Things happen in the background; news reports are cut off, and ‘drunk’ people stumble out into traffic. Hidden in their own disputes, the end of the world almost sneaks by our characters.

Perhaps the biggest issue with The Outbreak is the advert that’s tagged onto the end of the film’s cliffhanger finale. Like The First Purge, the film concludes with a promotion of the television series adaptation which presumably continues the adventures of our band of not so merry brothers. It’s certainly not as egregious as The Devil Inside, which ended with a plea to visit a now defunct website, but you may feel a little cheated that you’re not going to be getting any resolution any time soon. That said, what is on show has certainly done its part and shows great promise for future instalments.

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