Clive Barker hasn't done a lot lately, has he? I mean, we see him pop up here and there, talking about all of the projects he has in the works, but I can't even remember the last proper book he put out. Seems ol' Clive is resting on his laurels, and cashing in on slapping his name on everything from action figures to tepid Hellraiser sequels, which is why seeing his name associated with anything elicits little more than a disheartened shrug from me lately (like Wes Craven, but replace lately with always). But then along comes a little, direct-to-DVD cheapie like The Plague to reassure me that, occasionally, Barker can still back the occasional winner.
The Plague sports an intriguing concept. One morning, the world awakens to find that all it's children have fallen into a comatose state. Ten years later, we see the aftermath, as, since that time, there have been no new births, and the human race is in danger of extinction. Tom (Van Der Beek) returns to his small hometown after a prison stay to check in on his brother and comatose nephew. It seems that Tom's picked the wrong time to visit, as the sleeping children (now teenagers) awaken, and begin to exterminate their elders in ferocious fashion.
The Plague reminded me of a cheesy 1980 horror flick called "The Children" that scared the pants off of me as a kid. In that film, a nuclear plant leak turns a busload of kids into zombies with black fingernails and lots of eyeliner. Back then, that disturbed the hell out of me for some reason, and The Plague offers up the same sort of goth looking antagonists, but this lot's got bedhead from their 10 year slumber, and, it seems, something akin to a divine purpose. I think I liked The Plague's premise more than the actual film, but, for a good while, anyway, this flick offers up a few good, gory scares even if it's all a bit too ambitious for its budget. James Van Der Beek will always be Dawson to me, and still looks 15, so I had a hard time buying into him as an ex-con with the estranged wife (Milicevic) who looks as though she could be his mom (albeit a very hot, Bosnian mom). I was also a bit puzzled by the film's conclusion as we are never really quite sure what happened and why. Was it an actual plague? Was it some sort of "alien agenda"? Was it the punishment of an angry god?
Perhaps these questions would have been answered had we seen the film the way its director, Hal Masonberg, had intended. According to Masonberg, much was excised from the film before its release, and he's got a director's cut of The Plague that, in his opinion, makes for a more cohesive and complete film. Whether or not fans can influence Sony to eventually release this version remains to be seen.
As for extras on the existing DVD, Sony includes a few deleted scenes, a commentary track, and trailers for several Sony releases.
While Clive Barker's The Plague has nothing to do with Clive Barker, and may or may not even be a complete film, it's still a decent watch. Sure it features Sci-Fi channel production values, and its epic storyline is hindered by the fact that it looks like it was shot in a Calgary suburb, but the premise is an interesting one, Milicevic is hot, there's a blink and you'll miss it cameo by Dee Wallace, and Van Der Dude gets to kick serious zombie kid ass. I mean, what else anybody really need? You get 'em Dawson!