Santa Fe Independent Film Festival: 'Biomass'


A masked whistleblower posts video online of human experimentation in a lab deep in the New Mexico desert. Then he disappears.

Two bloggers and their friend, an intrepid television news reporter, set out to find him, accompanied by the reporter’s cameraman. In an underground facility, they run into zombified scientists infected with a pathogen that makes them spew blood and attempt to eat the protagonists’ faces. The foursome must fight for their lives while trying to find out what happened and find the whistleblower.

Many of the scenes are almost entirely dark or lit in an eerie green that makes details hard to see. The film’s website explains that Biomass contains “over 500 VFX shots comprised of subtle enhancements to overt high concept imagery,” which includes the green effect, and characters who flicker as if they are nothing but digital figments — a bit of style that’s never integrated into the plot.

It’s hard to say whether writer and director Anthony Riazzi made Biomass as serious horror or campy horror. The main characters don’t seem to be acting in a comedy, and there is nothing arch or knowing about their performances. The zombies are slightly mysterious at first but never approach scary, and the face-eating is just silly.

Riazzi was going for a handheld, found-footage aesthetic, similar to Cloverfield (2008) or The Blair Witch Project (1999), but the result has the feel of an overly earnest student film. 

Horror, not rated, 87 minutes; 8:40 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, Jean Cocteau Cinema

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