Urban Horror Unleashed – Mulberry Street’s Claustrophobic Rat Race
The 2006 horror film Mulberry Street transports viewers into a rapidly escalating citywide viral outbreak with chilling intimacy. Set in the eponymous downtown Manhattan neighborhood, this microbudget shocker from directors Jim Mickle and Nick Damici unleashes urban terror in a tightly contained setting.
When a mutated rabies virus turns locals into feral rat-like creatures, the neighborhood rapidly descends into chaotic infection. Former boxer Clutch barricades himself in an apartment building along with other survivors as the streets swell with bloodthirsty former neighbors.
Shot on a shoestring budget with largely amateur actors, Mulberry Street squeezes impressive tension from its limited resources. Cleverly keeping the rabid hordes largely off-screen, the film instead focuses on the panicked reactions of everyday citizens as their world unravels.
The neighborhood setting adds to the claustrophobic dread, with the virus literally closing in from all sides. Friendly faces transform into menacing monsters, underscoring the fragility of social order. Mickle and Damici find poignant character moments amid the carnage.
While occasionally betraying its low-budget roots, Mulberry Street delivers unrelenting nerve-wracking suspense as its characters grapple with the nightmare reality of a quarantined New York City. For a rollercoaster urban horror ride that thrills despite minimal resources, brave the feverish infected streets of Mulberry Street.
The best thing that one can say about Mulberry Street is that it’s not a bad little movie. The worst thing that one can say is that it’s a not a good little movie, either. It’s a movie that’s just…there. The film just centers around the tenants of a New York City slum apartment building. The entire town is going through an epidemic caused by rats, but the focus is mainly on that one building.
The film is set after September 11, 2001. One of the main characters is a returning war veteran and another character is quick to blame Osama Bin Laden for the trouble. However, the trouble is purely of the animal kind as anyone who is bitten becomes a rat-like creature with a taste for human flesh. The mix of people is almost stereotypical of what you would find in an old apartment building; former boxer, old veteran, tired bartender, black drag queen.
The trouble with the film is not that it’s stereotypical of the characters, but that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table in the first place. From the poster I can see that the film was featured at least five film festivals and other than Tribeca I really can’t see why.
Maybe the filmmakers were trying to make a metaphorical film about post 9/11 New York. I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. What I do see is a film that tries, and fails, to be something it’s not.
Nick Damici as Clutch
Kim Blair as Casey
Ron Brice as Coco
Directed by Jim Mickle
Written by Jim Mickle and Nick Damici