Directed by Andy Palmer and written by Carlos Alazraqui and Jill-Michele Melean, two rival mob families are transferred from the Witness Protection Agency by mistake to same city, Temecula, CA. Starring: Robert Belushi, Jill-Michele Melean, Vince Donvito, Erinn Hayes, Bret Ernst, Monique Coleman, Tara Strong, Carlos Alazraqui, Maurice LaMarche, Joseph D. Reitman and Gary Anthony Williams.
Mob families, zombies, strong New Jersey accents and a ridiculous amount of sausages, what could possibly go wrong? Those are some pungent ingredients to mix together in one film but you have to hand it to these filmmakers that whatever issues the film does have, that combination isn’t one of them. The whole idea of suspiciously good tasting food being served out of a food truck, addicting its patrons and turning them into the living dead, feels pretty relevant. If you were being neurotic you might even try to find some form of metaphor of how people flock to trends in modern society but let’s not go down that road. For the most part it feels very self-aware of its silly, outlandish nature and only occasionally steps outside of that attempting to throw in some genuine romance that doesn’t entirely work.
The problem that the film has is more along the lines of pace and consistency, firstly it spends far too long in the build up rather than jumping more quickly into its zombie fighting, survival phase. Secondly, its use of violence and gore is erratic, it starts off very light but spontaneously gets more gruesome, which would have worked better if they’d balanced it out across the whole film. There’s a knock-on effect with that given that the special effects work is also hit and miss. It’s not the only technical issue that the film has, its audio is very messy, cutting out too early at points and mixing things in an unbalanced manner in others. They could also have ditched the sporadically used title cards which don’t have anything to add. Otherwise the directorial style feels extremely fitted to the tone it’s going for.
Ignoring the terrible Jersey accents which feel almost intentional, the cast is pretty much what you’d expect. Belushi gives you the classic good guy lead, Melean is his love interest and the person who keeps him in check; it’s probably a big benefit that she also co-wrote the film, her character has more personality and attitude than you typically see in these sorts of films which is a bonus. Donvito sadly provides one of those characters that is so annoying, you wish he’d get killed off quickly. It’s a fairly large ensemble but the person who stands out is Monique Coleman, observant viewers who have a penchant for Disney may recognise her from her role as Taylor in the High School Musical films. Her appearance is sadly much too brief, she brings a vibrancy and energy that the film is otherwise missing, and hers is undoubtedly the most interesting character.
Witness Infection is pretty much what you’d expect after reading the synopsis but it could have been better if it had gone all in sooner and really had fun with its zombies. The pace is much too slow to begin with then speeds up too late, it tries to build up more of a story when it truly doesn’t need it; it could have just thrown caution to the wind and embraced its ridiculous nature. It would have benefited from adding more from Monique Coleman and levelling out its use of gore but it pretty much does what it says on the box.