Monday, July 20, 2009

Alice Jacobs is Dead (2009)

How far would you go for an ill loved one? Would you endanger yourself to keep them alive? Would you endanger the entire world’s population if it meant that a cure for their disease might be found?

In Alice Jacobs is Dead, the world has long been overtaken by the Z-virus, but one scientist, Dr. Ben Jacobs (John La Zar), has created a drug that actually slows down the development of the virus. A cure hasn’t been found, but Dr. Jacobs is tirelessly working on finding one, especially since the life of his infected wife, Alice (Adrienne Barbeau), hangs in the balance.

Written and directed by Alex Horwitz, this 20-minute short film is a subtle, slow burn as the audience anxiously waits to see if Dr. Jacobs will find a cure before his wife turns into a full-fledged zombie. While the horror isn’t graphic, the film’s true strength lies in the anticipation of what might happen. Dr. Jacobs is willing to sacrifice his own safety, as well as the world’s, to find the cure for his wife. We get a glimpse of the destruction the Z-virus caused in the opening scene of a destroyed Golden Gate Bridge, but the rest of the film is limited to the locations of Dr. Jacobs’ lab and his home. The claustrophobic, isolated atmosphere works well in the film because the audience can imagine the destruction that is just beyond the Doctor’s walls.

Another strength of the film lies in the interaction between actors John La Zar (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) and Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Creepshow, Carnivale, etc.). The two have a wonderful chemistry that really makes us believe they are a married couple fighting a degenerative disease. From loving moments to when they argue, their relationship rings true. It also doesn’t hurt that they are both highly accomplished actors! Rounding out the cast as Dr. Jacobs’ lab assistant George is Peter Cambor, whose credits include television shows Pushing Daisies, Numb3rs and Notes from the Underbelly, who also does a fantastic job in his role.

The film’s tone is somber, and if it weren’t for the zombie virus, it could just be another drama about a husband taking care of his sick wife. The zombie angle is what gives the film an edge, though, and makes it unique! There aren’t too many zombie films that give such humanity to turning into a member of the undead, and on the flip side there aren’t that many dramas that deal with the degenerative effects of a zombie virus!

There isn’t much gore in the film, but if you’ve been paying attention you’d know that wasn’t the aim or the focus of this short. We do get a bit of gut-munching towards the end of the film, but don’t come into Alice Jacobs is Dead expecting much blood-letting! To be honest, this film doesn’t need the gore and works just fine as a quiet study of a man going to great lengths to try to save the one he loves.

If you were in Dr. Jacobs’ place would you do any different?

Alice Jacobs is Dead may be a more subdued short film, but it will definitely get you thinking about what you would do if you were in the same place. My bet is that most people would indeed risk their own lives as well as the worldwide population’s if there was a chance they could save a loved one.

Alice Jacobs is Dead will be premiering at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 23rd, 2009 at 1:45pm in Room 26AB! Definitely don’t miss your opportunity to view this short!

Visit Alice Jacobs is Dead’s Official Site!

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