Zombies. The corpses that refuse to stay dead and buried. It’s fair to say not many people will be too excited about the prospect of yet another movie involving the walking dead. Especially one with its dead tongue jammed in its cheek and with tons of social commentary.
Call it zombie apathy.
So, it’s nice surprise to find Brain Freeze isn’t your conventional zombie flick. A movie that has enough fresh parts to stand out from the horde.
Written and directed by Julien Knafo (from a screenplay by Jean Barbe), Brain Freeze takes place on the isolated upper-class Peacock Island in Montreal, Canada. Isolated because it is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and only has a singular bridge as an access point.
Those who live on the island, live in class and part of that includes a world-class golf course. Where the rich and famous travel from all over the world, all year round, to play a few rounds and stay at the resort. Or at least they would, if the poor weather meant they could play in the winter.
The owner, Marcel (Louis-Georges Girard) has a way to make this possible. He has the green sprayed with an experimental chemical that will stop snow settling on it.
It certainly works on the golf course but as it finds its way into the island’s water supply, the residents begin to transform into blood-thirsty beasts. It’s security guard Dan (Roy Dupuis), his daughter Patricia (Marianne Fortier), young André (Iani Bédard) and his infant sister Annie (Claire Ledru) who find themselves caught up in the chaos.
Will they be able to survive, escape the island and reveal the truth about the chemical?
Four characters that you will adore, each are so likable and fun to watch. The chemistry between the likes of Roy Dupuis and Iani Bédard is immense and part of the reason, Brain Freeze is so watchable. You’ll like these characters enough to care about their fate, cheering them on when things look dark.
Another reason as to why the film is so watchable is the different idea that is these zombies. For starters, they are fast and share more in common with the likes of 28 Days/Weeks Later’s infected. However, while they are fast and violent, this infection is rooted in greenery and those who are sick start to become more plant-like. This allows the make-up artists to have some real fun with the look of these creatures. The way in which they strive to be in water is an interesting twist and they can be quite terrifying.
Part of that comes from the location, the snowy landscape and the isolation this community has. Something once desirable transforms into a prison, especially when the one route out is destroyed by the military.
Which brings this review to the social and political commentary that makes up a lot of Brain Freeze’s story. A lot of which is filtered through the right-wing radio host, Patrick Nault (Simon-Olivier Fecteau). Everything from health-nuts to medical conspiracy theorists to immigration, corporate greed and disease control is touched upon here. However, none of it feels ham-fisted and at times, is done in a humorously pointed way.
It all works so well and makes Brain Freeze a lovable and surprisingly good entry in a very tired sub-genre of horror.
Brain Freeze (2021)
The Final Score - 7.5/10