I bumped into Alex Garcia Lopez' Residue completely by accident. I was looking up some info on Rusty Nixon's Residue (2017) when I suddenly ended up with a trailer of Lopez' film. A happy coincidence, as Lopez' Residue turned out to be a sleek and well-directed genre effort. It may not be winning prizes for originality anytime soon, but Lopez more than makes up for it with stylish and headstrong direction.
Residue combines equal doses of mystery, horror and thriller, with some small extras of scifi and fantasy. That's quite a handful of genres, but at its core it's really just an outbreak film that shuffled some details around in order to avoid becoming yet another basic zombie flick. And with great success I should add, because Residue never feels like the 28 Days Later knock-off it could've been. Instead it reminded me more of Spectral, though a bit more low-key in execution.
The plot revolves around a New Years eve discotheque bombing that compromises an old military facility. A contamination spreads from the facility and a perimiter is set up around the distaster area, completely closing off the heart of the city. Time passes and normal life resumes, but for some reason the government has trouble clearing up the infected area. People are starting to suspect there's something the government isn't telling them and when a city photographer starts seeing weird shapes and shadows in her pictures, she vows to dig up the truth.
Residue is a film that lives through the atmosphere it conjures. It's a pretty dark and brooding film and the styling reflects that. Flashing neon signs are pretty much the only sources of color, the city looks bleak and abandoned and the contamination pushes people to pull off some pretty horrible stunts. The film also features a pretty banging soundtrack, with strong ambient and industrial influences, that only fortifies the desolate atmosphere. The underground club scene is a superb culmination of all these elements and stands as the highlight of the film.;
I guess some people were taken aback by the bleak atmosphere of Residue, on top of that Lopez leaves a lot to the imagination of the viewer. While the setting is properly established, the film offers little in the way of explanations. The source of the contamination is never revealed, neither is its exact nature. This may be because Lopez was planning to expand on his premise in a future TV series, but I actually believe that it works in favor of the film. It won't be easy coming up with a decent, let alone imaginative explanation for everything that's happening, so leaving it unresolved was probably the best solution.
If you like dark, moody outbreak films than Residue is a very easy recommend. If you demand closure and relief from a film though, it's probably best to skip this one. Still, I hope Lopez will return with a second film (though not necessarily a sequel), because he clearly has the talent to construct intriguing worlds that ooze atmosphere. Residue is a little gem that deserves to be seen by more people.