Starring: Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Ron Brice, Bo Corre, Tim House, Larry Fleischman, Larry Medich, Javier Picayo
Rated R for Creature Violence/Gore and Language
“Mulberry St.” is as mainstream as they come…except for the fact that it was made for $60,000 (and looks it too). The plot is pure formula, characters do some amazingly stupid things, and there are gobs of gore. That doesn’t mean that it’s good, however. “Mulberry St.” is a snoozefest, with nary a character worth caring about and a director who loves to shake the camera and get artsy,
It’s a hot day in New York City. The tenants of one apartment building have just found out that their home is going to be torn down to make way for a new skyscraper. They’re your average bunch with average concerns. Clutch (Damici) is an ex-boxer awaiting the return of his daughter Casey (Brice) from her tour overseas. Coco (Blair) is his gay neighbor/roommate/lover/something (the movie isn’t too clear on this). Kay (Corre) is a bartender raising her son Otto (Picayo), whom she thinks is sick but is really playing hooky. Larry (House) is the superintendent who is trying to fix everyone’s plumbing. And Frank (Medich) is caring for his sick father Charlie (Fleischman). But something weird is going on, with reports of people getting attacked by rats and suddenly dying. Soon Manhattan is on lockdown, and that’s when the trouble really starts.
On the acting front, no one bears mention. Nick Damici has the most screen time, which isn’t surprising because he co-wrote the script with the director. Bo Corre gives what is arguably the best performance, but I wouldn’t bet on seeing her on the Oscar red carpet any time soon. No one else bears mention for good or bad.
The film gets off to a good start. I knew from the first few minutes that I shouldn’t expect anything special, but a decent late-night movie wasn’t out of the question. The characters and the setting are adequately established. Neither is anything special, but it gets the job done. Once director Jim Mickle tries to ratchet up the tension, the film gets out of his control pretty quickly. He lacks a good sense of atmosphere, and his sense of pacing is off. He knows what this kind of film needs, but he can’t assemble the parts correctly.
The biggest question is what the evil creatures are. According to iMDb and the characters, they’re giant rat people. What little I saw of them (Mackie shakes the camera and cuts too often for us to get a good look—probably a wise move if he wanted to avoid audience laughter) didn’t convince me. They looked like zombies. They scream, they eat people, and their victims turn into…well, whatever they are. As the saying goes, if it walks like a duck…
One could make the argument that I should be more lenient on the film because of its lack of budget. True, the filmmakers couldn’t afford decent actors or equipment for such a small money pile, but remember that “Paranormal Activity” was made for only $15,000. That doesn’t excuse a bad script or bad storytelling. You can’t put a budget on those.