Directed By: Dominique Rocher
What do you do when the zombie apocalypse starts? Yeah sure you get to a secure place and all that. But what do you actually do? That’s the central question of this Paris-set thriller, which probably tells you that by and large, the horror element is a formality.
It’s one night in a fashionable Parisian apartment and Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) has shown up to pick up some ‘tapes’ from his ex. She thinks he should stay and have a good time, though she reveals herself to be both a terrible host and ex-girlfriend by yukking it up with her new beau. Sam, for his part, is understandably awkward around these people and retires to a room where he falls asleep and in a herculean effort the likes I haven’t seen since my Dad slept through workmen drilling in the house one day, manages to sleep through everyone else getting slaughtered during the night.
So it’s bye-bye ex, who we glimpse one last time, disfigured and angry before the movie moves on from that and more or less everything else. We get a brief scene involving some neighbours over the road to show why Sam shouldn’t try leaving the building he’s barricaded in and then after that it’s just a case of following Sam through his routine. He cleans the floors, scavenges for food and clears the building of any straggling undead (Aside from a family of them that he instead just leaves locked in their apartment). He locks and elderly and now undead neighbour in an elevator for company and he sits around making music and generally looking forlorn. Maybe there was something I missed but he doesn’t even try turning on the TV or the radio. Far as I can tell no one in Paris has a mobile phone.
Not to cast aspertions but this feels like one of those times where the filmmakers feel as though the genre they’re in is beneath them, like when Danny Boyle described 28 Days Later as an “eco-thriller” despite the fact it borrows liberally from The Day Of The Dead. At least it’s not so egregious here though, whereas the earlier movie very much trades in the language of the horror genre and then denies it. With this it’s all very ennui with the undead attached.
That’s…kind of it. Not to make generalisations but this all feels very French. Ok, that is a generalisation and a very purposeful one at that. There’s certainly nothing wrong with what the movie does and honestly given how oversaturated the genre is it’s nice to see something that’tries for something different, even though I don’t buy that the movie has as much on its mind as it thinks it does, but I would’ve liked to have seen a little more variety. I get how unusual that seems given that it’s a movie about boredom but I don’t think it’s exactly fair to the audience to make them feel what the main character is.
Alright, that was a little mean of me and I’ll try not to be catty. I appreciate that they were at least going for something different and I give credit to Lie for making his character’s unravelling believable, even in a second language (Much was made of the fact the movie was shot in both English and French, but it doesn’t really matter since the dialogue is so threadbare it’s almost a silent movie). I just wish there was a way to make boredom more interesting, or at least more cinematic. As it is the movie is visually flat – If it had been in black and white it would’ve tipped it over into glorious parody – and wait for it…lifeless.