(SPOILERS BEYOND) One could argue we’ve reached peak zombie and started down the back end slide of a well loved horror genre . There were a lot of zombie movies made after Night of the Living Dead was released and there have been a lot made after 28 Days Later revived the genre.
Saying there are too many zombie movies or we have reached peak zombie is like saying there are too many action movies. It’s true. There are more action movies than you can shake a stick at. However, we never say there are too many action movies. Why? Even as one fails there are few behind it that tell a good story or bring something new to the table.
We haven’t reached peak zombie. There doesn’t have to be a peak if directors and screen writers try to do something different, something new with a genre that has grown stale (Look at The Walking Dead‘s ratings for this season). Something different and new is exactly what director Dominique Rocher and screenwriter Jeremie Guez have done with The Night Eats the World.
Waking Up Alone
The Night Eats The World is about Sam who, like Jim in 28 Days Later, misses the zombie apocalypse. Sam wakes up after falling asleep at an ex-girlfriend’s party to find the world changed and not for the better. Sometime during the night something happened to turn everyone in Paris into zombies.
Sam’s introduction to the new world is his ex-girlfriend lunging for his throat. It’s at this point we see the something new and something different from The Night Eats The World we don’t see in other zombie movies. Instead of heading out into a ravaged Paris, Sam stays in the apartment building.
A Feeling of Isolation
Sam secures the apartment and then the apartment building. Like anyone at the end of the world, Sam raids every apartment he can for supplies. Staying in the building may not seem like a radical departure from other zombie movies, but think about those other zombie movies.
Most zombie movies or television series have a couple of things in common. There’s usually a reason or a hint of a reason why normal people turned into flesh eating zombies. The other thing they have in common is the first thing the main character does is set off down the road in search of other survivors.
The Night Eats the World chucks those two things out the window. Sam isn’t interested if anyone else survived. He’s not interested in leaving the confines of the building. Sam says later he thinks he’s safer inside than he is outside. It’s a hope he clings to even as his supplies run low.
It’s this self isolation the movie does so well. Sam’s world becomes the apartment, the building, and the things he finds in the building. A drum kit found in an apartment, a makeshift sound lab to create music, and an MP3 player become his sole outlet of expression. His only interaction is with a zombie trapped in the building’s elevator.
A Break From Reality
The passage of time is marked by the change of the seasons. We see Sam’s physical change,but we also see mental changes in Sam. He starts to carry on full conversations with his zombie friend. His nightmares become more vivid and the need for human contact grows. Sam risks going outside the apartment building to lure a cat, the only living thing he has seen in months, into the building.
Sam’s ultimate break from reality comes in the form of Sarah. Sarah repeats to him that he’s not safe inside the apartment building. She’s seen others like him and none of them fared very well. Sarah represents all of Sam’s fears. Fears that have been building inside him the entire movie.
Finally, in a self-destructive fit Sam escapes the building. Unlike other zombie movies this is not the happy ending Sam wanted. It may not be the ending viewers are use to either. Most viewers want to see the heroes of the movie saved from the zombie hordes. It gives us hope. The ending of The Night Eats the World is not happy.
Much like 28 Days Later, and even The Walking Dead, Sam never utters the word ‘zombie’. In fact, Sam doesn’t say a lot in The Night Eats the World. The dialog consists of his conversations with a zombie and an imaginary friend. The lack of dialog fuels the isolation Sam already feels. Many people say they could get along just fine by themselves. The fact is without human interactions a lot of us would be feeling loopy like Sam too.
If you’re looking for a zombie movie with guns, explosions, and lots of rotting corpses walking around harassing survivors you should look somewhere else. The Night Eats the World won’t deliver these things. What the movie will deliver is a well scripted and well acted movie willing to do something different. It will also deliver tense moments and scares not seen in other zombie movies.
The Night Eats the World isn’t looking to scare you with the typical run in with a zombie while going to a grocery store. The Night Eats the World gets into your brain. The scares are more in your imagination and what may be coming for Sam.
What The Night Eats the World won’t deliver is a rosy, everything is going to be okay ending. The ending is the complete opposite. Sam manages to swing across to another building’s rooftop. The rooftops, as Sarah mentioned, may be the way Sam saves himself, but the final look on Sam’s face says the complete opposite.
The Night Eats the World is a must see for fans of zombie movies and for fans of character driven movies.