One of the trademarks of indie horror is that it can’t get too ambitious. One haunted house, serial killer, or monster at a time, please. Mulberry Street didn’t get that memo. It’s a movie of limited resources, but considerable ambition for telling a story about a plague in Manhattan. And even though it tries to go big, it does something that I love about some movies set in New York: it lives comfortably in a specific neighborhood. This New York City consists of the people in a crowded apartment building, a neighborhood bar, and the route one character takes for his morning run. The Statue of Liberty and Times Square are nowhere to be seen.
These crowded city apartment buildings span generations and ethnicities. They aren’t unique to New York, or even America. [Rec], Phase 7, and Rammbock present the same thing in entirely different countries. Here are people who are different but close, their relationships tested by some horrible calamity. They are the new family unit.
Mulberry Street features a twist on the familiar soldier-returning-home motif that I really liked. And I love how much attention it pays to older folks. Normally, if you’re over 60, a movie isn’t going to bother with you for very long. Mulberry Street also features some neatly staged action sequences, including a fight scene that belongs alongside Disney’s Tangled as proof of the tactical advantage of weidling a skillet. Also, any movie where Larry Fessenden shows up gets extra points in my book (his vampire movie Habit was another great example a New York City neighborhood). Enjoy his mini character arc as Man Behind the Gate.
Director Jim Mickle and actor Nick Damici, who co-wrote Mulberry Street, recently made a more ambitious but ultimately less effective movie called Stake Land, which ranges across a vampire post-apocalypse. Sometimes it’s better to just keep your apocalypse local.
Mulberry Street is available on Netflix here.