The Plague (2006): D+
All kids under the age of 10 fall into a deep coma punctuated by creepy seizures. Most entertaining stretch of the film. Act 1 ends.
A decade later, the still comatose kids suddenly become not comatose and work together to murder / consume the souls of adults. They are incredibly effective at this; despite being bedridden for ten years, they are nimble and tough yet easily defeated by different flavors of head trauma and point-blank gun shots.
As you would expect, a group of survivors band together and try to stay alive while simultaneously trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. What unfolds is a dozen or so clichés stitched together for 88 minutes and a cop-out ending. I am such a sucker; I actually skipped back and watched the ending of the DVD with cast/editor commentary. They didn’t speak on anything that was happening. They spent about eight minutes dissecting how “hot” the barely hot lead actress is.
It’s like Children of the Corn and Dawn of the Dead but directed by douche bags. The adults travel from building to building as they hide from the coma-kids. With each transfer to a new locale, one or more members of the group get murdered. I can’t believe this happened more than once, but there are multiple scenes where a kid is pointing a gun at someone, but before they can pull the trigger, they are shot by an out-of-frame character at the last possible second. You know what I’m talking about: The red wound appears and swells. The shot kid slumps to their knees and we see the character behind them holding the smoking gun.
Gunfire to non-vital and thus impervious zombie body parts inspire looks of surprise and awful-as-fuck dialogue. There are shock cuts around corners and off-screen, implied kills. Some of the makeup is okay and there are some creepy shots of seizing kids.
The Wise Elder character tries to explain early on that the epidemic is predicted by an obscure Bible passage and that the children have risen from hibernation to claim souls as the first stage of the rapture. He is, of course ignored, until one of the survivors, James Van Der Beek, he of the Creek of Dawson, figures it all out and sacrifices himself to a mob of kids. This is great because I was sick of looking at his cheap tattoos. Apparently, the only way to stop them, or slow them down, or make them less violent (it is never clarified) is to voluntarily offer your soul up for consumption. Surprisingly, few characters do this.
A paperback Grapes of Wrath shows up a few times in the film, making me want to puke blood and soil myself. The parallels between that text and The Plague are feeble and superficial. Van Der Beek returns home like Tom Joad does and finds his family is in a bad way. That’s about it. We have no great migration, no comments on human kindness (or human nature), no critique of capitalism, and no complex human relationships. Maybe you could argue that VDB laying down for the kids is like the breast feeding scene in the novel because they involve generous self-sacrifice. Good luck with that.