REVIEW: Brain Freeze (2021)

dir. Julien Knafo.

After being orphaned, 13 year old André (Iani Bédard) is tasked with keeping himself and his one-year-old sister, who is prone to some serious toddler Houdini-like escapism, alive. It’s a task made all the more difficult when the local affluent golf club – in an effort to keep the course playable all year round – polluts the water of Île-aux-Paons with a fertilizer that, when consumed, turns people into rabid zombies spurting nuclear green gunge.

Although for many the zombie sub-genre has grown tiresome, much like 2007’s Spanish found footage classic [Rec] Knafo’s sophmore outing will force audiences to the edge. André being forced to take on the sole responsibility of a wayward one-year-old – after witnessing the savage death of their mother – is heart-breaking, Bédard’s performance etched with such sad acceptance so as to bring genuine emotion to the narrative: something many other zombie films fail to do. 

That said there are some silly moments – including a zombie Jack Russell terrier – that season the movie with some great laugh out loud moments, offering much needed comedic relief. However the one aspect lacking is some good old fashioned zombie splatter gore: with the infected turning green, it would have been a great addition to have had the effects department go all out on a Nickelodeon-slime-style bloodbath.

With its combination of fast-moving, green-oozing zombies and environmental disaster, director Knafo has delivered an eco-horror nightmare with heart: if 2016’s Train To Busan and the BBC’s eco-sci-fi series Doomwatch had a French Canadian baby, this would be it, warning that the fate of the planet and the consequences of environmental abuse does indeed weigh heavy on the shoulders of the younger generation.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana

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