You might think Bernard Matthews employing the placating skills of Spiderman 3 the height of avian flu bad taste, but this little US TV scythe carrier pips him to the viral barrel scrapings.

      Fatal Contact is a doleful tale of an international business man who brings a nation to its knees. How does he achieve such a monumental effect single-handedly? Simply by  straying a bit too close to one of the Chinese proles working 12 hour shifts to bring some bottled delight to the America market. Anyway, within hours he’s back in his home town spreading infection to all and sundry – a Typhoid Marv, if you will.

      The most annoying thing about this initial set up is that the film clumsily tears a page from the Da Vinci Code’s book of cinematic exposition. “Well looky here. That man shakes hands with that other guy. Okay. And…” Cue a GGI close up of the evil bug pouncing from one palm to the other. Run this a couple of times to ensure that you completely understand the primary reader world of virology, then gently rub temples throughout the rest of this filmic plague carrier.

      There is the occasional hope of some redeeming feature, but the dig to extract it inevitably requires an unconvincing leap of faith. For instance, the isolationist theme is thankfully underpinned with at least a nod to a wider global perspective. However, this picture is predominantly negative. China is the wellspring of the disease, the French then come up with a vaccine – only to withhold it – Africa provides a populace ripe for the constant mutation of the virus and the British… Well, the Brits turn up in one tiny piece of news coverage, and then with a decidedly New Zealand twang.

      The only positive element that Death Ray readers might take away with them is the low budget feel of the film’s straight to TV production. There’s something convincing about the hospital and subway crowd scenes, something unintentionally Cronenberg about the trucks filled with body bags. But the half smiles of appreciation these raise are fleeting at best. The final prognosis? Sickly to the core and for all the wrong reasons.