Best Movies of All Time + Tony Vespe



"The whole infection thing's really nuts."
-- Dannie
Pathogen is a 2006 horror film directed by Emily Hagins that centers around a group of pre-teens trying to survive a zombie epidemic. When a highly-dangerous nanochip finds its way into the local water source, anyone who drinks the water becomes infected with a mysterious illness that ultimately kills them. After a short time, however, the afflicted are re-animated and start to hunt the living. One young girl named Dannie (Rose Kent-McGlew) starts to question how the infection came about and starts asking some of the kids around her school for information. She teams with a small group of survivors, including her best friend Sam (Alec Herskowitz), Christine (Tiger Darrow) and Cameron (Tony Vespe). As they do their best to stay alive, they run into Sue (Rebecca Elliott), the researcher responsible for creating the nanochip that ultimately caused the virus to spread. As time continues to pass, and more people turn into flesh-eating zombies, the group does everything they can just to keep on living.

I heard about Pathogen through another film - Zombie Girl: The Movie - that chronicled the making of Pathogen. After watching that documentary, I simply needed to give Pathogen a view, so I quickly shipped for my own copy of the film. What attracted the filmmakers of Zombie Girl was the fact that a 12-year-old girl was directing the flick. It was an unprecedented thought back in 2006, and it still remains so today. Anyone that young writing and directing a feature-length film seems nearly impossible, but I'd have to say that Emily Hagins does a fantastic job with her debut feature.

Now, you should know going in that this is an extremely low-budget film, and it definitely feels as such. Still, it took a lot of guts for young Miss Hagins to start this endeavor, and to see the final product is truly a treat. You shouldn't go in expecting brilliance; you kinda have to take it for what it is - a movie crafted by a twelve-year-old mind - if you want to enjoy it. That being said, there were quite a few things that I thought worked very well during the film.

For starters, I thought the screenplay was extremely well-written, especially considering Hagins's age at the time of its writing. Sure, the dialogue is a bit forced here and there, but the actual plot and storyline stands up against some of the better zombie flicks to have graced the silver screen. It's not easy to craft a plausible horror storyline, but Hagins does so rather well, giving us a realistic situation in which the film's events could ultimately fall into place. Does the film delve into cliché? Of course, but you can't hold that against Hagins in the slightest. Even when you feel like you've seen it before, there's something entirely refreshing about what we're seeing on-screen. It's as though we're seeing the beginnings of a director with tremendous potential, and we're eagerly waiting for more.

I could probably go on and on about the acting, which ranges from decent to comically bad, but there'd be no point in discussing it in great detail. Many of the featured actors are personal friends of Hagins, and some of the adult actors were her mentors in the filmmaking process. There is, however, a little bit of an Easter egg for you nerds out there: be on the listen for a vocal cameo from Ain't It Cool News founder, Harry Knowles.

I also want to give a little shout-out to the effectiveness of the music used during the film. While I'm not personally familiar with some of the selections, I thought that each piece added to their respective scenes quite well. Kudos there, Miss Hagins.

At the end of the day, Pathogen is not a movie that most people will ever see. It's the feature film of a young woman who has the potential to be a great director, but it will only ever reach a mass audience if she continues down that path and makes a bigger name for herself. Still, it's a fun film that's definitely entertaining from start to finish, and I would highly recommend watching this in conjunction with Zombie Girl: The Movie if you can find a way to score a copy of Pathogen. Once again, kudos to you, Miss Emily Hagins, on a valiant debut effort. I hope I have the opportunity to see more of your work in the future.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B-
1.5 Thumbs Up

Addition to Awards
2006: Nominee - Best Horror/Thriller

2006, Alec Herskowitz, Emily Hagins, Harry Knowles, horror, movie review, NR, Pathogen, Rebecca Elliott, Rose Kent-McGlew, Tiger Darrow, and more:

Relevant to: PATHOGEN + Tony Vespe