I discovered director Jose Carlos Gomez because his movie Bled White was on a zombie combo disc with other indie zombie flix. Jose’s movie didn’t fit in. Seriously did not fit in. But it did make me want to see other films by him. And so this blog was born.
BLED WHITE (2011)
Bled White is like the ultimate in indie film-making. It may have the look of an indie film that went through some digital processing, but the content is a viewing experience by a guy who had a vision of the movie he wanted to make and did it perfectly.
We’re thrown into the middle of a zombie apocalypse with no knowledge of the background of our main characters, played perfectly by actors, North Roberts, Matthew E. Prochazka, and Colleen Boag.
But like the time shifts in a Tarantino movie, various segments are presented featuring different characters whose stories all eventually converge. There’s gore, there’s horror, there are intense zombies, and there’s even some dark humor. And there are very concentrated stories about minimal, desperate characters out in the country somewhere trying to survive, which give it such a stark and isolated feel. Don’t worry. There are also zombie swarms by the end of the film.
Bled White is stunning to look at. Almost feeling like a black and white film, the only color that ever really stands out is red (wahoo!). Otherwise, the film somehow comes across as both frighteningly dark and glaringly white at the same time because it takes place during snow season (you can practically feel the brutal winds). The extreme dark/light contrast creates an intensely creepy atmosphere.
And yet as dark and dreary as the tone is, Bled White still manages to have a quirky sense of humor—and leaves us with an almost comical final moment. If you’re going to do a serious, character-driven zombie film, this is the way to go.
Plastic is a darker, much nastier film. I guess you could say it’s about a serial killer. Personally, I found it to be less a portrait of a serial killer and more of a look at how easy it is for a madman to live among us…and for us to fall victim to him.
Gomez brings back his three strong performers from Bled White. Colleen Boag is a young woman kidnapped by resident psycho North Roberts. Meanwhile, Matthew E. Prochazka is a probation officer who’s on the verge of being a bit of a psycho himself because he’s desperate when his whole world starts to crumble down around him.
From a horror standpoint, Plastic is a disgustingly detailed look at the practices of a serial killer…right down to the pipes getting clogged from the things he’s flushing down the drain (gross!). It’s hard not to notice similarities between North’s character and infamous real life crazies.
His house is disgusting and there are bodies all over the place, many of them covered in plastic…many of them not yet dead. Colleen is put in a tub that’s not exactly empty and has clearly been the site of some serious atrocities. There, she awaits a certain fate of being slaughtered like all the rest.
North’s brutal treatment of his victims—with no sign of him seeing them as human—is a reminder of how such terrible things can happen in reality, such as Jeffrey Dahmer torturing and killing so many young men or Ariel Castro holding those three girls in captivity for ten years.
Gomez also demonstrates why it’s so easy for us to be oblivious to having a psycho living next door; we’re all either ignorant to the possibility or just too wrapped up in ourselves to even take notice. Anyone who comes near North’s house is repulsed by the smell, yet no one—not even his probation officer—considers for a moment that he might be hacking up women in there.
There’s even a brilliant moment after one of his horrible acts in which we see some smiling people walk right by the house on the sidewalk without a care in the world and unaware they are only feet away from a killer. It’s only North’s neighbor who starts to suspect something, and only because he’s unemployed, stuck at home, sick of the smell blowing into his windows, and watching North like a hawk.
But it’s the sudden burst of action at the end of the film that really catches you off guard: unexpected twists, brutality, tension, and suspense. While the ending shows a hint of hope for humanity, Plastic is a bleak and gritty indie that really reminds us why we should always look over our shoulder…and sometimes take a quick peek through the neighbor’s window….
Jose Carlos Gomez is one of those rare modern directors who’s taking familiar subgenres and actually doing something different with them. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.