Brain Freeze

Brain Freeze
Running time:93 minutes
Director:Julien Knafo
Release date:Not communicated
A fertilizer used in a wealthy gated community becomes the source of a genetic mutation that turns its inhabitants into zombies. Can a teenager and his little sister escape the quarantined island before they turn into weed?

Mulder's Review

"Yes, Brain Freeze revolves around the zombie phenomenon. But you 'll find more than just characters trying to escape the traditional flesh-eaters. Here the monsters are not the Zombies (called the "Infected" in the film), but rather those at the source of the infection. The story is built around characters that I hoped would have been dearing, who find themselves at the heart of this crisis. I chose to create a reality, just far enough removed from our own, to allow for the suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer and invite them to enter my world. It Is a personal offbeat story, symbolically rich enough to give the film universal scope and appeal. It is indeed a new type of zombie movie. Many of us are inspired by genre cinema; the guilty pleasure in feeling the semi-conscious impulses that arise from our fascination with the monster. The same childhood fear that had us believe in malevolent creatures that sleep under our beds, brings us a certain kind of enjoyment when those stories find themselves on the big screen. It is pure jubilation for me to bring my childhood nightmares to life through the art of cinema. "Julien Knafo

What better choice to open Fantasia than a Canadian horror comedy that pays homage to zombie films and once again denounces the inappropriate mentality of large corporations that believe they can do anything, including endangering the lives of a small community. The second film co-written and directed by Julien Knafo after Lucidité passagère (2009) will remind many of the horror comedies of the 80's and one will think as much of John Carpenter as of George A Romero when discovering for the first time the film Brain Freeze. 

It is interesting to see that the music of this film is also created by Julien Knafo which gives Bain Freeze a very particular tone. In the same way, it is impossible not to think of the first films of Peter Jackson in this will to mix with brilliance comedy and horror. Instead of going for an outrageous gore film, Julien Knafo & Jean Barbe's script prefers to bet on the setting up of a dangerous climate and on the transformation of people into "infected".

After a rather effective introductory scene showing how a company is dumping a new fertilizer on golf courses so that wealthy players can walk around their playgrounds all year round, the calm of the small community of Ile-aux-Paons is going to be changed forever. The fertilizer contains a substance that will spread in the water and transform the inhabitants of the island into cannibalistic infected people who will proliferate at a rapid rate. A security guard and his infected daughter cross paths with a lonely, rebellious teenager whose mother has been infected and who must protect his baby sister. As a quarantine is put in place and the island is cut off from all possible exits in order to restrict this pandemic, survival will be the only alternative for these survivors.

Director Julien Knafo knows his classics and it shows in his inspired direction and the way this film unfolds, which follows the basic rules of zombie films while adding social and naturalistic touches. For those who are fans of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill universes, this film will remind them how horror films allow us to address our current society by pointing out its many flaws.  The scenario puts forward a multitude of characters and social classes living on this island but also the arrival of two professional killers who seem to act in a synchronized way all the time. 

Brain Freeze also surprises us by the permanent use of a radio chronicler who seems to rally right-wing ideas and show that the most dangerous and the monsters are not necessarily these zombies but these people with dangerous ideas who seem able to direct the decisions of certain people. We suspect that this character is an additional way to give a realistic side to this film and to criticize once again our current society. 

In our pandemic world context, watching a movie like Brain Freeze gains in effectiveness because we realize that human errors can trigger dangerous world situations with a plethora of deaths and collateral victims. While we do not know the long-term effects of the covid 19 vaccine or the evolution of the variants of this virus, one hopes that humanity will understand this reminder of an important respect for nature and the dangers of modern science.

Brain Freeze
Directed by Julien Knafo
Produced by Barbara Shrier 
Written by Julien Knafo & Jean Barbe 
Starring Iani Bédard, Roy Dupuis, Marianne Fortier
Music by Julien Knafo
Cinematography : Marc Simpson-Threlford
Edited by Glenn Berman
Production companies : Palomar
Release date : October 29, 2021 (Canada)
Running time : 93 minutes

Seen on august 11, 2021 (screener press Fantasia)

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