Signalled by the repeated use of the spine-tingling refrain from the British band Muse’s song The 2nd Law, there’s a palpable, uneasy tension to World War Z. Zombie films are nothing new, of course, from the George A Romero classics to 28 Days Later, but this blockbuster adaptation of Max Brooks’s 2006 apocalyptic horror novel viscerally shows what a global pandemic might be like.
Brad Pitt, all goateed and grey-haired, is Gerry Lane, a former UN investigator. Within minutes, he and his wife (Mireille Enos) and two daughters are fleeing Philadelphia – as humans are gripped by this carnivorous virus. These aren’t shuffling, stumbling creatures but the undead equivalent of Usain Bolt, covering ground in record time as they hunt down their next meal.
Akin to Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, Gerry travels to South Korea then Israel and Wales in the hope of finding a cure. The director Marc Forster visualises social collapse on a grand scale and it largely pays off. Purists may be offended by the zombies’ breakneck speeds, but this detour from the norm allows for some startling scenes – not least when the creatures form a pyramid to scale Jerusalem’s walls. Both scary and sobering, it’ll leave your nerves jangling.