Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
How does one classify a movie like Phase 7 (Netflix, Hulu)? Generally speaking, killer plague + goofy mustaches = horror comedy. But is Phase 7 horror at all? There’s very little gore (see below), zero scares, and only a hint of suspense. Black comedy might be appropriate, but despite the end-of-the-world vibe it’s not really all that dark. It’s actually kind of optimistic and compassionate. Maybe that’s why I like it so much.
Vague character motivations and silly action scenes notwithstanding (Why do some countries struggle so mightily with movie gun fights? It’s because America rules and is awesome, isn’t it?) Phase 7 is a heterogenous mix of funny, serious, and shocking moments, all barreling toward a surprisingly emotional coda. For example: at one point a bunch of neighbors calculate how many “real” people live in their building, not counting cleaning ladies or Asians. Har har. A little while later, these nice folks decide to forcibly relocate a lonely old man, which is somewhat less funny. Then, out of nowhere, this happens:
To be fair, the exploding head gag is an isolated incident. Phase 7 isn’t anywhere near the End Times splatterfest its hazmat-suit-and-shotgun box art suggests. It is, however, quite the survivalist fantasy. I am not a doomsday prepper but that is only because I lack the time, energy, and disposable income. Also my wife would divorce me if I started stockpiling munitions in our comically small apartment.
The thing about those crazy preppers is they’re going to be right eventually. Even if it’s four billion years from now, the world will eventually end. And in the interim there are bound to be plenty of catastrophes significant enough to merit a hearty “I told you so.” Imagine if you spent your entire life being mocked for your apocalyptic beliefs. When said apocalypse finally hit, I would cruise around in my armored car, laughing at the unprepared masses as they shambled by with their skin dripping off like the guy at the end of Robocop.
Added bonus: toward the beginning, army men in gas masks drop a giant tarp around an apartment building. That has to be a dig at [REC], right? Way to take on a beloved, homegrown franchise! Maybe eventually they’ll listen and stop churning out disappointing sequels. (Probably not.)