The oddest, and perhaps longest lasting, after-effect of Covid has been the “pandemic pictures.”
You know them within five minutes. Remote locations and limited sets. Small casts of characters and no crowd scenes. Lots of people talking on Zoom.
They can be comedies, dramas or horror films. They can inventive, or they can be forced. But Eradication goes a step further than most of them. It’s a pandemic picture about actually living through a pandemic.
A joint project from Daniel Byers and Harry Aspinwall, with Byers directing and Aspinwall starring, it borrows heavily from Night of the Living Dead and I Am Legend. Aspinwall plays David, a rare survivor of a modern plague. Infected with a deadly raging virus, he remains confusingly asymptomatic.
That makes him – or, at least, his blood – very valuable.
So he’s holed up in remote cabin in the Adirondacks. He regularly draws a pint of blood and sends it, by drone, to his wife, who’s working with medical researchers on a vaccine. They send him a can of food or two to keep going.
This goes on for two years.
But then David begins to get frustrated and impatient. His wife, Sam, who he talks to via computer, begins to get a little evasive. And something, or someone, starts prowling around at night in the woods outside David’s house.
For the most part, this is good, taut stuff, anchored by Aspinwall’s performance as the human pincushion and Anita Abdinezhad as his desperate wife. It’s also supported by some inventively economical filmmaking that suggests the aftereffects of a catastrophic event without ever showing the actual catastrophe.
Byers, who began his career as a cinematographer for horror films, also knows how to get the most out of his limited locations. Many scenes are shot by available light. Details are kept dim. Faces are lit by computer screens, or cheap lanterns. Shadows lurk.
The slim story, eventually, can’t quite support the feature all the way to the end. There’s a third-act reveal that doesn’t quite work, or adequately explain the two acts that went before. The final scene isn’t climatic as much as confusing.
But Eradication is a creepy little nightmare for at least a solid seventy minutes. And its monsters linger in your mind long after the movie fades.