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THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD gets 8/10 Biting commentary


Directed by Dominique Rocher

Starring Anders Danielsen Lie, Golshifteh Farahani, Sigrid Bouaziz

8/10

When he falls asleep one night at his ex-girlfriend’s party, Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie), awakes to find a world that has fallen to zombies. Apparently alone, save for the undead, and trapped within a Parisian apartment building, he struggles with the day to day practicalities of survival, as well as the ravenous hordes and the effects of crippling isolation.

What makes The Night Eats the World stand out from it’s contemporary brethren is its focus on that isolated fortress mentality. True, it is not the first lone survivor take on horror (as any iteration of Richard Matherson’s I Am Legend can attest), but most zombie films do rely on a group dynamics, that “us against them” mentality. Instead Sam is shut in his safe haven, protected from the world, but slowly suffering the effects of isolation, turning more defensive and toxic. Not a terrible metaphor for the modern age and our reliance on electronic media at all.

There is also the restraint taken by this film to the portrayal of gore. Not to say The Night Eats the World doesn’t show gore, after all, it’s a zombie film – blood is splattered, brains blown out, limbs rendered, bones are splintered, and flesh rots. Rather there is care taken to portray the aftermath of violence, rather than to provide that visceral carnage. It’s a deliberate step to rob The Night Eats the World of that aspect of a cheap thrill, and it heightens the quality of the film, rather than appearing prudish. We are meant to be living in the aftermath, and we vicariously feel the weight of that, as the film saves that examination for the consequences rather than the act itself.

The zombies too, have a subtle difference about them. Here they attack with a speed we’ve seen in many modern zombie films since 28 Days Later, running full pelt at their prey. Inactive, they stand almost dead still save for the occasional spasm. When they do attack they lurch with little concern for balance or injury, in an attempt to bite their subject. It is terrifyingly inhuman in a way we’ve not quite seen before, and aided by some bone chilling folly work, creates something familiar yet still unique.

The Night Eats the World is a carefully staged horror film, with many wondrous moments that startle you with their artistic grandeur. More important though is the meditative study of character. How the decisions Sam makes keep his humanity, in a world where the simple act of being alive makes him the outsider. This may not be the genre defining film that some of the hype is promising, but it a great piece of zombie cinema that does some extraordinarily interesting things within those bounds.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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