9 April 2007 | Coventry
Impressive no-budget horror
"Mulberry Street" is basically just another forgettable and mediocre creature-feature flick, but I'm rewarding it with at least two extra points because director Jim Mickle and his enthusiast cast & crew clearly went through several harsh ordeals before they could finish their ambitious project. Mickle came to introduce his film at the Belgian Horror & Fantasy Festival and explained how they had to shoot essential footage in the middle of the crowded streets of Manhattan without any official permission to film there, and how all the actors in this film are friends or in some way related to the director, so none of them received any payments. Bearing all this in mind, plus the fact that "Mulberry Street" actually shows the courage and ambition to be a different and largely atmosphere-driven new horror film, I'd say it at least deserves the respect and appreciation of avid horror fanatics and amateur filmmakers all over the world. And the film itself really isn't that bad, neither. A handful of likable characters, all recently evicted tenants of a ramshackle apartment building in Mulberry Str; Manhattan, join together in order to survive a deadly virus that broke out in the city overnight. As a result of constant urban decay, pollution and unbearable heat, the sewer rats of Manhattan are quickly spreading a horrible disease that causes its victims to mutate into a ravenous and bloodthirsty rat-creatures. Once bitten, people rapidly turn into a zombies with the appearance and eating habits of rats, and they only look at their former friends and neighbors as rich sources of food. Clutch, a retired boxer, nervously awaits the homecoming of his soldier daughter, but first he has to protect the other tenants as the rat-zombies are quickly infesting the entire neighborhood. The engaging depiction of the inhabitants of 51, Mulberry Street unquestionably is the biggest advantage of this film. The characters admirably aren't empty-headed junkies or filthy scum, but a close community of hard working and respectable people that are prepared to sacrifice themselves in order to save the others. This is honestly the only film I remember portraying the typical New Yorkers as unsung heroes. Even though the script reveals very few details regarding the lethal rat-virus, the chaotic situation in downtown Manhattan is eerily plausible and the overall atmosphere of "Mulberry Street" is tremendously menacing. Jim Mickle and writer/lead star Nick Damici simultaneously grab the opportunity to process a whole cargo-load of social and political criticism into the screenplay, particularly emphasizing the the war in Iraq and the problematic housing accommodation in big cities. Despite of budgetary restrictions, "Mulberry Street" also features a satisfying amount of blood and gruesome images. The make-up effects on the victims of the rat-virus are quite nasty and the zombie-attacks are uncompromising. Unfortunately the pacing slows down a bit during the second half of the film and the dialogs begin to sound repetitive. But by then, personally, I was already too impressed to allow the minor & understandable flaws to spoil my viewing experience. I really liked this film, as it has real characters and displays a righteously unhappy world-perspective. I doubt "Mulberry Street" will become a film that is easily available, so if you have the opportunity to watch it some time, do not hesitate.