State of Emergency is a movie that I had very little expectations of going in. This isn’t out in North America yet and after seeing a few trailers and reading some reviews I thought I’d check it out once it was released here, then I found out it was already released in the UK. I’m lucky enough to have a region free blu-ray player and a neighbor who in addition to being a big horror fan also makes frequent trips to London.
Most of the reviews I read were really bad so I initially thought this was going to be just another low budget zombie b-movie. So, with expectations incredibly low, I popped the disc into my machine and hit play. What followed was the best hour and a half of movie watching I’ve experienced in a long time.
The movie starts with main character Jim moving slowly through a hallway, taking his place at the top of a stairwell and signalling another man (who we later find out is the character Scott) to stand back. We then get the “4 days earlier” caption and we go back to the beginning of the story.
The movie takes place in the small town of Montgomery County after an explosion at a chemical plant. This releases a virus/bacteria that starts turning some of the residents into zombies.
At just under an hour and a half, the movie is slightly short but in that time it has a good balance of suspense, character development and drama. For the most part the characters evolve and break down as the time passes by and the group dynamic grows awkward. The only real complaint I had character wise was Julie, played by Kathryn Todd Norman. Her character seemed almost an afterthought once she was introduced and had the smallest amount of screen time and fewest lines of the survivors. Initially I didn’t care for the character of Ix very much either, but her development goes down a path I wasn’t really expecting it to and by the end of the film she was one of my favorite characters.
This movie isn’t fast paced by any means, and relies more on developing the characters and using the tense group dynamic than gore or violence. If you’re expecting to see a movie like the Dawn of the Dead remake or even 28 Days Later then you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re expecting to see a very well thought out movie with an excellent soundtrack and very likeable characters, then this is the movie for you.