2020 is the year of isolation, when everything stood still, could there be a film that reflects our current time? Yes...Dominique Rocher‘s The Night That Eats The World.
This mark’s the filmmaker’s directorial feature debut. Based around around the novel by Pit Agarmen‘s novel of the same name (La nuit a dévoré le monde). Anders Danielson-Lie (Oslo, August 31) stars as Sam a musician who heads to Paris, France to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. He’s there to collect a few items he left behind to find she’s having a party with her new boyfriend.
Sam is coaxed to hang around and he escapes to one of the empty rooms to brood, only to fall asleep. He awakes in the morning to be greeted by silence with no one around, where has everyone gone? The apartment is empty but Sam thinks nothing of it at first. It’s only when he looks outside and he finds the floor covered in blood, he suspects not all is well.
If your expecting legions of the undead swarming Sam’s location for a piece of flesh, you will be severely disappointed. The Night That Eats The World is an arthouse zombie film in it’s minimalist form. This is a character study wrapped in loneliness and despair, most of all surviving not just from the zombies.
This film premiered at 2018 FrightFest only to find it’s way onto DVD a few days later. The first reviews have been positive and my first watch I was impressed. Two years on the film feels very resonant in what’s happening in the real world. Let me explain a little…
As I write this, here in the UK we’re entering our 5th week in lockdown thanks to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Once again humanity finds itself in an existential crisis, Sam is too. Corona Virus arrived with very little fanfare and a lot of gossip where it might of came from. What turned Parisians into the Walking Dead is unknown, Sam is not concerned at first. Same could be said about Corona and over a period of time we grew to learn the dangers as did Sam.
Rules, restrictions were made to prevent the spread of virus. From essential food supplies, daily exercise keeping active lockdown at home. Sam is resourceful, very creative, he secures not just his apartment but the who building. Gathering food, anything to keep him active whilst keeping social distancing in mind. In the real world that’s 2 metres for us, for Sam it;s a whole new ball game. We see him practice distancing thanks to Alfred.
Denis Lavant (Holy Motors) delivers some comedic relief playing the zombie Sam names Alfred who is trapped. It looks like suicide was Alfred’s way out, is he allegorical about the rise of suicide amongst men of certain age groups? He is in a way a homage to the classic George C.Romero zombie. Sam talks to him, reflecting his desire for company.
With us all been in lockdown now for a second month, our hair is getting longer, for some cabin fever is kicking in. The film is existential on how Sam adapts and survives the crisis. when isolated for long periods loneliness is always our unravelling. We do seek company , the importance to familiar routines and emotional dependence. Sam finds himself sliding into Kafkaesque nightmare when he starts to lose grip of reality. When someone does finally appear (Golshifteh Farahani) your left asking if he really does seek companionship.
The Night That Eats The World may not cry out originality in a film from a crowd sub genre. It is also refreshing that some attempts to try something different shifting the focus to surviving than a zombie kill count.
Dominique Rocher‘s claustrophobic film is a stripped back, subtle, endearing , entertaining film. Reminding us amongst the doom and gloom humanity still lives on.
Horror, Drama | France, 2018 | 15 | Subtitles | Signature Entertainment | Dir.Dominique Rocher | Anders Danielsen Lie, Golshifteh Farahani, Denis Lavant