Defiant Screen Entertainment, Rated MA
First-time co-writer/director Dominique Rocher’s low-budget, memorably-titled French zombie drama found an unexpected ally in Stephen King who (much like he did with Sam Raimi’s original The Evil Dead years ago) loved it and was happy to praise the thing for free. It has the feel of one of King’s small-scale novellas too, as there’s more interest in the psychology of the central character(s) than all the scary stuff that lurks just outside, and we’re right there with them in their fight to stay alive.
Our Paris-residing muso protagonist Sam (Norwegian actor Anders Danielsen Lie) has recently broken up with his girlfriend Fanny (Sigrid Bouaziz), and he ensures that he makes a scene when he arrives one night at her house in the middle of a party to retrieve some tapes. Evidently Sam is a fool and he’s presented, at first, as an annoying and childish figure, but when he passes out upstairs, doesn’t hear what we know is coming, and awakens to find the city overrun by fast-moving, frantic yet dangerously quiet zombies, we feel for him anyway.
Realising his situation, Sam barricades himself in the apartment block and waits for help, but when none comes he starts to lose touch with reality, with Lie surprisingly good during long, silent sequences where he’s alone onscreen. Very much a study of the dangers of isolation and loneliness, this is frightening at times (like when he plays the piano by an upstairs window and a horde of undead gather just below) but actually more powerful when Sam is shown to be subtly going crazy all on his own, as months pass, winter comes and he’s finally forced to take his life into his hands.
With unavoidable glimmers of the original Dawn Of The Dead and its 2004 remake, this is so much better and stronger than so many zombie outings (even the French ones), and features a moving, nuanced performance by Lie that could have received more attention if it wasn’t in, you know, a horreur movie.