Film: The Night Eats the World
Director: Dominique Rocher
Writer: Jérémie Guez, Guillaume Lemans and Dominique Rocher
Starring: Anders Danielsen Lie, Golshifteh Farahani and Denis Lavant
This was a film that I heard about as it was making its festival rounds from websites that I go to for news. The official synopsis for the film is the morning after a party, a young man wakes up to find Paris invaded by zombies.
We follow the main character Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie). He goes to a party that we see he doesn’t really want to be at. From dialogue we get that this is the apartment of Fanny (Sigrid Bouaziz) who is his ex. When she moved out, she took all of his cassette tapes by accident and he is there to collect him. This is an odd sequence as she wants him to enjoy the party and she doesn’t really make time for him. He does get into it with Mathieu (David Kammenos), her new boyfriend and she tells him where the box is being kept. On his way there, he gets hit in the nose and then ends up falling asleep. With some great use of sound, we hear something bad happening outside of the room he locked himself into.
The next morning he finds the apartment is trashed and there’s no one there. He does find people from the party, including Fanny, but there’s something wrong with him. He locks himself in the apartment and discovers outside that everyone has become zombies in Paris.
Like many zombie films, we get Sam trying to secure this apartment building as he tries to find food and a plan to survive. We also see him try to bring some normalcy back to his life, which is human nature. The biggest part of this film though is that we see him as he starts to descend into madness due to loneliness. It is interesting that this film never establishes when it takes place. We see cellphones, but we never get a good look at them and there is also an iPod. There are cassette tapes and CDs which gives this film a more timeless feel. I also saw the cassettes as Sam clinging to the past and not wanting to move forward. There is an overbearing feeling of isolation as he is the only character outside of the zombies for a long stretch. He even has zombie locked in an elevator that he talks to. He names it Aflred (Denis Lavant).
That brings me to something that I did have some problems with. I do have some issues with the zombies in this film as it never really establishes the rules. They can run, which is fine. They also seem to lose interest when they can’t see the person they are after, but then other times it seems like they can. There is also a scene with Alfred that I was torn on. I like what it is implicating, but I also don’t think it follows the rules.
The pacing of the film is a little bit slow as this is a character piece. It does get exciting when Sam sees a cat outside as well as meeting a young woman Sarah (Golshifteh Farahani). I do think that the climax is good, but the problem with it is that it is created by things that Sam does. He is very careful at first, but then becomes more reckless as he starts to get cabin fever. I did like the ending and the final image.
As for the acting, it is mostly just Lie. I thought he was really good and I think his character arch was interesting. We can see that he hasn’t moved on when we first meet him. I also like how he establishes the normalcy to his life and then starts to lose his mind because of it. When Farahani shows up, she is important to his character growth. I thought she did a solid job as well. Lavant was really good as zombie and I thought the rest of them were as well. I do have to say that Bouaziz comes off as a bitch, which I hope she was going for, because she nailed it.
There’s not a lot in the way of effects, but they seem to be practical. I do recall that they seem to hide some of it, which I think is good. It happens so fast that it really makes sense. I thought the zombies look good as well, definitely a perk in my opinion. I also thought the film was shot very well. It has a polished, yet gritty feel to it. The isolation of the setting was good and how they got the streets around the building to look add to that feel.
The score of the film really doesn’t stand out either. I do know there are times where there are ambient songs that are used. Those were well done. For other scenes, it is very low which does help to add to suspense they were going for. This score was fitting for what they needed, but it doesn’t stand out too much.
Now with that said, I really enjoyed this film. I thought it was good and definitely kept my interest. Many zombies film really are more of the characters trying to return their life to some sort of normalcy and that is exactly what we get here. What makes this interesting is that we have one person, in the middle of a city locked away. It is fun to see Lie, who did a great job in his role, as we see him going through his process and start to descend into madness. I was a little confused on the zombies and their rules, but I thought they looked good. The editing is okay. The film does build tension, but it happens quite rapidly. There weren’t a lot of effects and they looked to be done practically, which I thought worked. Overall I’d say this is a good film and if you like the genre, definitely give this one a chance.
My Rating: 8 out of 10