Finally time to get to the first zombie movie of the season. I know that zombies are to the 2000’s-2010’s what slasher films where to the 80’s-90’s (cheap and abundant) but I still enjoy them probably more than I should. It’s like the superhero movie of horror. They’re all over the place but even the bad ones are still somewhat entertaining to watch. I especially like seeing zombie films from other countries like this one because I think American zombie movies have tended to get into a rut. It takes things like Shaun of the Dead or 28 Days Later to shake up the genre and get people doing something different. So what does What We Become bring to the table?
The movie follows a Danish family that gets caught in some terrible circumstances. At first it seems like there is just an outbreak of a virus and, unlike how most zombie films portray things, it manages to get contained within the small town of Sorgenfri (which was the original title of the film). At first the movie is much more like The Stand than Night of the Living Dead. The main tension comes from the isolation of the quarantine and the fact that everyone is on lockdown. Rations become scarce and everyone is getting desperate as it seems like nothing is getting better. When things go awry and the “patients” get released, we find that the occupation is a much better option than the flesh eating infected now roaming the streets.
One of the better ways that monster movies and especially zombie movies can twist perspective is by taking the focus off of the creature and onto something else instead. Dawn of the Dead did it by making the focus more on the mall and the interactions the survivors have being there. By putting the focus on the more grounded ideas of infection and family, the tension ramps up smoother and makes the sudden shift from mundane threat to ravenous undead all the more jarring. Most movies are so focused on the “zombie apocalypse” aspect that they don’t really come at the idea with the notion of having the outbreak be less about global collapse and more about the collapse on a local scale.
Having the smaller focus also makes scenes that tend to happen in a lot of zombie movies be a bit more meaningful. Every zombie movie is going to have a point where someone is infected but someone else can’t bring themselves to kill that person. When dealing with a global outbreak and it is known that infection means turning into a monster; the person that can’t handle that seems foolish and selfish. Many times I’ve heard people talk about how in a zombie apocalypse they wouldn’t hesitate to kill a friend or loved one. However, when the situation is suddenly thrust upon someone and they had no idea that the whole zombie thing was happening; it makes more sense and has more emotional weight in that scenario.
I definitely enjoyed What We Become and think it’s a great example of how to do a zombie movie right. Highly recommend watching both to anyone that enjoys the zombie and even if you don’t, the lack of a zombie-centric story should still be entertaining. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Favorite thing in the movie: The little girl has a pet rabbit and the way it was used in the film was much subtler and different than I was expecting.
Least favorite thing: The main teen boy has to suddenly become an idiot with no self-preservation instinct for the plot to progress. Might have been handled better without having to make one of the characters strangely idiotic.