Eradication (2022) Review
Eradication is a 2022 American science fiction horror film about an unknown disease that wipes out most of the world’s population. Meanwhile, a man with unique blood is isolated for study. Fearing for his wife’s safety, he breaks his quarantine – into a world overrun by monstrous infected people and a shadowy agency hunting them down.
Directed by Daniel Byers – making his feature film directorial debut – from a screenplay co-written with co-star Harry Aspinwall. The Kinogo Pictures-Dakoit Pictures-Dark Tower Films production also stars Anita Abdinezhad and Christian Masters.
Eradication opens with a gas-masked couple fleeing through the woods. One falls and tells the other to go on. They’ve barely taken a couple of steps before we hear something behind him. As he turns to look an arrow hits him in the eye. From there we go to the credits, accompanied by scenes of destruction and the usual excerpts from news broadcasts telling us how dire the situation is.
It’s now two years into the pandemic and David (Harry Aspinwall, Crazed, The Quest) is the only person known to have contracted the virus and lived. This makes it important that he be kept alive and isolated as his blood may be the key to developing a cure. He’s been living like this for nearly two years, the sole bright spots being video calls from his wife Sam (Anita Abdinezhad, Sideways Smile, Fling) one of the epidemiologists studying his blood. And then the calls stop coming. And when one does come through it leaves David with a fear for her safety.
Director Daniel Byers, who co-wrote the script with Aspinwall, makes his feature debut with Eradication after filming several shorts and documentaries. That background shows in the matter-of-fact way the film documents David’s isolated existence. And that’s a good thing because almost nothing exciting happens in the first half hour but it manages to stay watchable, unlike many other pandemic films shot during the pandemic such as Lockdown and Machination.
Eventually, David runs into an example of what happens to everyone else who gets infected, a less elaborately made-up version of the zombies from Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. He’s saved from eradication by an arrow from an unseen archer and races back to his cabin.
At this point, Eradication starts to pick up about as David seems to become paranoid and begins hallucinating. He smashes all the kitchen timers that served to keep him on schedule and defying instructions he begins to explore around the cabin, eventually finding the bodies of the couple from the prologue.
With a budget of only $5,000 Eradication obviously didn’t have the budget for hordes of zombies or even a cast with more than five members. Instead, it works on building suspense as we’re left wondering just what is going on. Who is the mysterious archer? Why have Sam’s calls become more frantic? Just how bad is the world outside of David’s small domain?
Around the fifty-minute mark, Byers drops a major revelation that kicks the film into its final act. It’s still far from action-packed but it does pick up its pace a bit more and deliver a couple of genuinely creepy moments. Some of what we learn doesn’t make a lot of sense, maybe because we don’t get full answers to all of the questions that are raised. But it does give us enough information that it’s not a total non-ending.
One thing that I do wish Eradication had made clear concerned the plague victims. The one David encounters is out in the sunlight with no ill effects. But the others we see react like vampires and burn when exposed to it, even shortly after being infected. Between that and their thirst for blood it also begs the question if they are vampires and this is a spiritual prequel to Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend. That, unlike the Will Smith movie, featured a world overrun by bloodsuckers.
While it suffers due to its budget and a script the director admits was written in a rush, Eradication is still one of the better microbudget pandemic films and one of the few decent films to get labeled a Tubi Original. With its measured pace and lack of action setpieces it won’t be for everyone, but those who don’t mind that will find it worth their time.