By Oliver Gettell
Updated December 31, 2015 at 12:00 PM EST

Patient Zero, a pandemic thriller featuring former Doctor Who star Matt Smith, Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer, and Stanley Tucci, sees humanity battling intelligent, adrenaline-fueled creatures born from a viral superstrain. But please don’t use the Z-word.

“The great days of zombies are a little bit over,” says director Stefan Ruzowitzky (Deadfall). “It’s time for something new.”

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Plus, the filmmaker says, “the infected,” as they’re called, are “much sexier” than the undead. And they have an agenda: leap-frogging people on the evolutionary ladder.

“They have a lot of energy, they’re fast, they’re good-looking,” he adds. “Not those walking vegetables.” (Ouch. Your move, The Walking Dead).

Patient Zero opens in theaters Sept. 2.