When I discovered "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" showing on a late night channel I thought to myself this is going to be a bad movie where someone took the fear of Bird Flu and tried to make a disaster movie out of it. And to be honest I wasn't wrong because not only is it outrageous in the manufactured way the virus mutates but it struggles to really generate a coherent storyline and as for the ending, it sucks. But then whilst "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" on one level is a failure it is also an interesting look at a worst case scenario brought on by a pandemic, and by worst case I mean extreme worst case.
Whilst hopes of containing an outbreak of Avian Flu in China are high it soon becomes apparent that it is wider spread than hoped as a businessman who had been in China returns to America and dies from the infection. Specialist Dr. Iris Varnack (Joely Richardson - Return to Me) of the Epidemic Investigation Service tries to advise the Government as the virus spreads but with economies collapsing, people dropping dead America and the rest of the word descends into chaos.
Okay so as a disaster movie because that is what "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" really is it sucks. It doesn't have a strong central storyline or strong central character and what we get is basically an extreme look of what could happen if a pandemic took grip. That is not the worst of it because it also has some bad acting, corny scenes and an ending which is terrible in its abruptness.
But the irony is that whilst "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" is a failure as entertainment it is quite interesting in its extreme vision of a worst case scenario. What we see is how people react to the outbreak and the results of their actions. Now there is the typical, we see people desperately wrestling over what food there is in shops and people needing treatment getting angry as the hospitals are over run and medicine is in short supply. But it is the less cliche elements, a shop keeper increasing prices due to food scarcity, a governor living in a secure facility with air recycling out of paranoia, the elderly suffering with no one to care for them, the dead dumped in mass graves by garbage trucks and economic action brought against countries withholding resources. It is this side of the movie which is where it is good because whilst it is an extreme worst case scenario the elements are based on what could happen and make you think.
And to be honest that is about it because whilst "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" has a few characters from epidemic specialist Dr. Iris Varnack through to Alma a nurse these are not strong characters. As such whilst the cast features such recognizable stars as Joely Richardson, Stacy Keach and Scott Cohen their characters are not more than props to lead us through the various sections rather than people we connect to.
What this all boils down to is that "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" doesn't work as a piece of entertainment or disaster movie because it lacks a coherent storyline and collection of characters. But it is interesting in its look at what might happen in an extreme worst case scenario, from the obvious such as water rationing to the less obvious such as the elderly being forgotten about in the chaos.