How a film about zombies can be so natural and real? You keep asking yourself this question, while watching the horror movie – Flesh and Blood (2016), a breath taking intense experience.

This short film was successful even before being released. The director – Merlin Camozzi and his team have reached and exceeded their goal for the production budget, launching a convincing fundraising campaign on a crowdfunding network. What is it about the unusual story that won fans from the start?

Through a snowy perilous mountain, hoping to find a cure for what appears to be a rare virus, three travelers struggle to make their way to the other side. The small family: an out-of-control father, obviously affected by the virus and his two daughters: 18 year-old Max who is leading the way and the younger Ellen, are searching for salvation and what they call with hope in their voice “the fence”. As the narrative unfolds, we discover with surprise that what seemed to be a true story about a family survival in a harsh environment is something more – it’s a zombie apocalypse.

Nevertheless, the Merlin Camozzi’s concept of a zombie implies not the reanimation of the dead but a realistic virus affecting the living. The virus slowly affects the infected human; this is why one may never know when someone develops completely into a zombie. The tragedy deepens as the infected one can be lucid and normal one moment but after a few minutes, a mortal threat to his family. Those uninfected have to take a painful decision about their infected family members. The oldest daughter, Max, anguished by mixed feelings, is the one who desperately tries to save her family. In this scary, post-apocalyptic world, our protagonists appear to be threatened not only by the dreadful virus, but mostly by their inner violent conflicts.

Camozzi’s known for his stand-out short film – Coeur D’Alene (2015), a story about a girl and her doomed rabbit. He’s also recognized for creating character-driven genre films that are grounded in reality. A big role in achieving his goal of truthful characters in Flesh and Blood was having an amazing cast. The film stars famous, talented actors: Clint Jordan (who received a 2002 Independent Spirit Award nomination for the title role in Virgil Bliss), Hannah Telle (known for her roles in the epic video game Life is strange and TV shows Sex in the City and Days of our Lives) and Charlotte Alexis White (a young actor who has been featured on shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Longmire and Private Practice).

Flesh and Blood is the type of film that feeds your mind but at the same time, tugs on your heartstrings. Camozzi wants your rational mind to be busy collecting details to confirm a realistic story: cat food which the family eats to survive, layers of cardboard meant to offer protection, the father’s reactions, similar to an alcoholic’s delusion or maybe to post-traumatic stress disorder soldiers experience. At the same time, your heart is torn apart every time the small family gives each other a rushed hug that may be the last one.

In a brief narrative space, Camozzi manages to find just the right balance between tension and short serene beautiful scenes. In one of the most moving scenes from the film, we just forget about the crows creepily flying around and the buzzing of those annoying fleas threatening to worsen father’s plagues. Max is singing a mellow song in the middle of nowhere, inviting her sister and her father to join in this desperate attempt of playing a family.

Flesh and blood is undeniably an incredible horror film, not because of some special effects and bloody scenes. The authenticity of emotions and the closeness we feel to our three unfortunate travelers is what makes a story about zombies as real as our most buried fears can be.

 author: Teia Brînză
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