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Journal of an epidemic_ – a review

June 24, 2013

(Note: the embedded version is tiny. Either view it fullscreen or go to the movie’s Vimeo page.)

I’m a sucker for infection movies, as well as short and sweet pieces that manage to tell a story. With that in mind, Journal of an epidemic_ by Australian film maker Olivier Mamet hits a sweet spot with me. As the title suggests, it tells the story of a global apocalyptic infection. In three and a half minutes humanity crumbles to nothing and we’re treated to the last of our kind.

The film itself is like an intro to an apocalypse flick, which is both a strength and a weakness. On one hand it draws you in, on the other it stops just as it’s getting most interesting and would probably have benefited from a few more minutes of storytelling.

Most of the short film is made of archive footage. It’s spliced together nicely, and I like the way the story is told. We have the usual hospital shots and newsreels as well as the near-obligatory microscope shots. In addition to the archive footage, there are some lovely shots of empty cityscapes. Judging by the lighting and the lack of people I assume these have been filmed during the early hours of the day. It’s nothing new – 28 Days Later‘s abandoned London pretty much set the standard – but the shots are beautiful in themselves. The third element is filmed footage of a gasmasked survivor going through the remains of civilization.

There’s a voiceover narration throughout the film, and a special mention must be made of it. The narrator Luke Atencio has a very pleasant voice, which is critical in a short movie like this. No, seriously. Having to listen to an annoying voiceover for the duration of an entire film? Think about it. It’s not coincidental that they cast the likes of Sir Ian Mckellen or Sigourney Weaver as narrators in films and documentaries.

Overall verdict: Journal of an epidemic_ is a nice and sleek little short film. While it’s not revolutionary, it manages to condense an end of the world story into a little over three minutes, which is nothing to be scoffed at. Go ahead, watch it. There are far worse ways to spend three minutes.

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