I first saw Adrenalin: Fear the Rush back in the late 90s and at the time, I was blown away. I remember thinking it really lived up to it’s title (not so much the subtitle though, that’s just fucking stupid.) Naturally I was very curious to see if it still held up because let me tell you, a lot of shit has changed for me since then. For one thing, I’m watching a lot more horror and a lot less (ahem) Brendan Fraser films…..
The film takes place in 2007 after an epidemic has wreaked havoc on Europe (you all remember the great European outbreak of 2007 right?). Natasha Henstridge (Species) plays Officer Delon, a cop in an internment camp in Boston for new European immigrants set up to keep them quarantined and prevent the epidemic from spreading. When an infected man goes on a killing spree it is up to her and a small group of officers to track him down and kill him before he becomes highly infectious and starts an outbreak that would have catastrophic results. Christopher Lambert (Highlander) shares top billing (back when he could do that) as one of the other officers who joins Delon in pursuit of the infected maniac.
The first thing I’ll say about this film is it doesn’t fuck around. You get just enough exposition to set-up the story and then you’re off with Delon chasing the deformed madman through claustrophobic tunnels and dilapidated buildings. Relationships between characters are established but the film doesn’t dwell on them in an overly-sentimental way which helps keep the pacing tight.
I do have to mention that clearly this is not a high budget film but director Albert Pyun wisely plays to the film’s strengths by focusing on a small cast in a confined environment rather than attempting extravagant scenes that he couldn’t pull off with the available budget. Now, I know that Pyun is someone who has been savaged by the internet over the years (even compared to Ed Wood, the ultimate insult) and while I can’t speak for his filmography in general I do have one thing to say about this one….it works.
There is without a doubt a palpable sense of tension and dread as Delon and company chase down the killer through effectively creepy sets. This definitely looks like a case where Pyun found existing locations that worked for the film rather than trying to build something that just looked dilapidated and ultimately came off as fake. The use of shadow and lighting also works very well and this is certainly a film best enjoyed alone in the dark.
The antagonist is mostly shot from the back or in shadows which works well as a method for making him more ominous and is also good because his contacts look incredibly fake when seen in a close-up. There are of course other aspects of the film that are less effective as well. Christopher Lambert is, well, about as good as he ever is and there is sometimes an inconsistent sense of space within the buildings. This is most apparent when characters freak out because they are being locked in a room only to casually walk out in the next scene as though it never happened. It should also be noted that the image quality, prop design and supporting cast keep you reminded that the film was made on the cheap.
All in all though this is a solid film that’s well worth watching despite some flaws. It has what it needs where it counts and regardless of any preconceived notions you may have about Pyun, I would certainly recommend this journey into the dilapidated depths of the city.