Short Film Review “Positive Result”



First, the Recap:

Outsider. Pariah. It stands as an ugly truth that when anyone, individually or as a group, is singled out due to some form of perceived malady they possess, the blatant exclusion leveled against them by society at large can be utterly crippling. How is it possible to find hope when such blind “fear” and hatred exists? For a regular guy like William aka: Billy (Martin Challinor), this reality becomes all too evident when, upon returning from a party trip abroad in Budapest, he learns he is infected with a tenacious disease known as ZNP. Already difficult to accept, there is the worse realization about the fact that after you die from it–you’re turned into a zombie.

Still reeling from the news, and despite the blood tests and attempted “comfort” from the head doctor, Penelope (Stefania Montesolaro), trying to treat him, Billy returns to work, only to be immediately ostracized by his co-workers who now fear being near him, rejecting him outright. Even a best friend, Jeremy (Manh Hai Le), no longer wants anything to do with him. Assured by his boss Josie (Hayley Sheridan) all will be well, the harassment continues full force. Topped off by his wife Helen (Amber Addison) choosing to leave him for worries about herself and their child, Billy considers drastic measures. But, an unexpected turn of events occurs when he attends a support group lead by Sam and Carrie (Rakesh Jhalli & Joanna Andr), finding he’s not as forsaken as he believes.

Next, my Mind:

As only Part One of a proposed four-film series based in the world they’ve created, writer/director/producer/editor Alasdair McWilliams and writer/producer/cinematographer Andrew Cant present an uniquely crafted premise that turns the entire notion of what we would normally associate with the zombie genre on its head and instead proposes a scenario more equivalent to the AIDS scare of the 1980’s. In this actuality, those infected with ZNP, hence eventual zombies unless a cure can be devised, are walking among us every day, with some already known to have it being totally rejected, maltreated, seen as freaks, and socially isolated, whether at work, at home, or just on the street. Even the physicians who profess a wish to assist seem rather detached from it all, most likely more concerned with how to cure the disease overall, rather than truly investing in the infected themselves, though exceptions may appear. Well-shot cinematography embraces the characters and their actions to good effect here, and the atmosphere of desperation and almost hopelessness is potently delivered.

Challinor does a fantastic job in his performance as Billy, an everyday man so overtly thrown into the fire when a purely accidental moment upends his life with harsh intent. Watching from the moment Billy learns he’s contracted ZNP, to the unnerved state of being he exudes while being tested and somewhat generically “encouraged” by public health officials, to the jarring emotional strife he faces when being bullied at work, spurned at home, and left with no sense of optimism, it’s a rollercoaster ride that almost leads him to end it all until the right instance comes along and saves the day. The relief Billy feels when having actual certainty he isn’t friendless or abandoned is deeply sincere, and Challinor channels all of this raw sentiment very, very well. Again, given this is only the initial chapter of a bigger concept, it will be interesting to witness what the subsequent chapters will offer us based on the domain we’ve been introduced to and Billy’s plight.

Supporting turns abound here, including Montesolaro as the lead doctor Penelope who’s trying to genuinely assist those afflicted, Le as Billy’s now former friend Jeremy who leads the charge against Billy’s presence at work, Sheridan as Billy’s boss Josie, who supports his employment on the surface, but still one wonders what she might really feel, Addison as Billy’s wife Helen who coldly flees with the couple’s child for fear of being infected themselves, plus Jhalli and Andr as support group leaders Sam and Carrie who become the first people to honestly accept Billy, wanting to help him and his condition. In total, “Positive Result” is one of those both subdued yet undisguised narratives that tackles its themes of the unknown and the paranoia that accompanies it with a quiet intensity and real-world application that begs us to look at our own behaviors towards those afflicted with scary illnesses.  Perhaps it prods us to be more compassionate as people, put aside our fears (even if with appropriate precautions), and realize no matter what they’re facing, we’re dealing with fellow human beings.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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