Eradication isn’t an especially good film. No burying the lede here. It’s another gray-toned pandemic-set film where the zombie-esque apocalypse is condensed to one man desperate to escape his nice house into the mysterious and deadly forest surrounding him. It feels interminable despite a fleet 87-minute running time. There are a few good scare bits towards the end, but it’s mostly just like every other low-budget plague pic we’ve seen time and again.
David (Harry Aspinwall) is our hero, living out a routing of exercise, healthy eating and contacting Sam (Anita Abdinezhad) via Zoom each day. Sam is a scientist helping create a cure for the virus that has ravaged the world, and David’s blood might just be the key. He is one of the few infected who didn’t become a flesh-eating monster. That doesn’t matter much to David at this point, though. He just wants to escape his confinement and reunite with Sam.
Our hero isn’t allowed to leave his compound, and if he has to, he’s strictly warned to never leave after dark. Supplies are delivered by drones that hover above the forest with threatening silence. The trees are policed by mysterious men in yellow hazmat suits and gas-masks. They’re not afraid to kill anyone who might post a threat to them.
To Aspinwall’s credit, he’s good as David, playing the standard slowly-losing-his-shit archetype audiences have come to know so well in this genre. He’s also credited as a co-writer on the film. Abdinezhad is good as Sam, too. The film doesn’t work, but they’re fine in it.
Really, the issue with Eradication is that it never seems to do anything new with this story. Until the final moments, most of it feels indistinguishable from other survival horror stories that became popular in the early 2010s. Using a pandemic to drive a plot in 2022 is differently charged than a few years ago, but for the most part nothing here is much different than what you’d see in The Walking Dead. This almost feels like a throwback to an earlier era of disease-related horror-thrillers — including the way it doesn’t kick into gear until a few minutes at the end.
Admittedly, the last few minutes are pretty great. There’s a tense sequence involving high-quality make-up work and a sneaky infected character. Darkness is used to great effect. Director Daniel Byers shows off some real energy and visual cleverness to create a memorable scare. I found myself wishing the film had that verve for the entire runtime and that the story told was more propulsive. In the real world, I spent an entire year sitting around quietly hoping things would get better, slowly losing my mind. It’s not that interesting to see on screen.