CONTAGION OF FEAR (2023) Review by Steve Kirkham



3 stars
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CONTAGION OF FEAR is a well made thriller with one of those poster/sleeve images that makes it look rather more exciting than it actually is and to try and show it has a much bigger budget than it does. As it is, it’s no better or worse than a lot of the sci-fi/horror/thrillers that turn up regularly on streaming services.

Set in Sydney, as this is an Australian production, it opens with worker ‘bees’ going about their daily lives, heading to work in the city. Their normal day is shattered when there is a deadly, catastrophic rail derailment on the underground. Chaos ensues as the walking wounded exit and the emergency services try to treat the injured. It is soon realised, that not only has there been the crash but there has also been an attack releasing a quick moving virus that very swiftly kills the people infected. The authorities swiftly move to try and contain the illness before it can spread citywide. These early scenes are well staged, intercutting news reports which fill in the story, with the bedlam and confusion at the actual location.

Yussuf Nassar (Harry Pavlidis), an older Middle Eastern gentleman, attempts to help one of the victims on the platform. As he is unaffected he is immediately suspected of being responsible for the release of the deadly vapour and is locked up by one the rail workers as a terrorist.

He manages to call his daughter, Leyla (Ash Ricardo) to try and free him – she is a cop but is currently suspended. As the sickness spreads, and more people die, she endeavours to prove her father’s innocence and find out what really happened and who is really responsible.

Whilst this may not be on the level of OUTBREAK (1995) or CONTAGION (2011), it does manage to be gripping throughout – clearly an extrapolation from Covid, it’s believably acted and the script encompasses government level corruption, racial profiling, the threat of terrorism and even the impact of social media influencers – plus it shows how fear can be just as dangerous as the spread of a killer virus. It focuses on both the personal level and also on the wider impact of an all too possible terrorist onslaught with a biological weapon.

Steve Kirkham