Coincidentally watching this the day after Blindness it was interesting to compare the different approaches to the disaster movie. Based on a Stephen King novella, and produced by Disney company Dimension, you’d expect this to be far more conventionally generic; which, for the most part, it is.
The film, and maybe the source material, is heavily influenced by Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) with the religious nut given a much greater role. The ‘unexplainable’ disaster that’s unfolding around them is similarly handled; particularly potent is being trapped in that ‘everyday’ place – the supermarket. It’s great also to see an old woman operating dynamically; whilst a youngster fumbles with a lighter she, when confronted with a large bug, calmly lights a can of spray glue and incinerates it.
Unlike the earlier film, however, there is an explanation offered for what’s happening and the ‘body horror’ of the 1980s adds to the ‘gross out’ quotient of the film. All this is effectively done and it, like Blindness, has a very bleak view of humanity.
SPOILER ALERT: Mostly the film is typically Hollywood however the ending was quite shocking. The protagonists have escaped the supermarket but are on a road to nowhere and their petrol runs out. The situation is as desperate as that in the still-not-released The Road (I’ve read the book) and the father has only four bullets to dispatch his son and three others. And he does it only to find rescue ‘around the corner’! No wonder it only took $25m in North America. This has to go with Se7en (1995) as having the bleakest ending in post-70s Hollywood. So, in this case, the Hollywood genre movie is more grim than the arthouse film.