zombies have not completely jumped the shark for you after the spectacle of the
unruly San Diego zombie walk, than this might be the right film to regroup
with. Yes, the zombie apocalypse has fallen, but three survivors largely tune
out the shuffling hordes for long stretches of time in Christoph Behl’s The Desert (trailer here), which screens
during the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival.
Ana, and Jonathan have banded together, sharing a strangely intimate
post-zombie rising in a reinforced ranch-style house. Axel yearns for Ana, but
she has romantically paired-off with the better looking but far less sensitive
Jonathan. To serve as an emotional outlet, Ana set up a confession cam in their
backroom, where she often records her innermost thoughts. That is not really
Jonathan’s scene, but Axel often visits to secretly view the videos Ana
deposits in the supposedly sealed trunk. As Axel’s jealousy mounts, Ana
increasingly misinterprets his moodiness as hostility, deliberately
antagonizing him in turn.
this awkward mix, Jonathan brings Pythagoras, a feral zombie he chains up in
the workroom to help facilitate some unfinished business from an extremely
uncomfortable game of Truth or Dare. Even during Armageddon, three is a crowd.
However, four is particularly unstable when the fourth is a zombie.
question, Sabu’s Miss Zombie is the
new modern zombie classic of the last ten years or so. Desert never reaches its heights of pathos, but there is something distinctly
unsettling about its fatalistic portrayal of humanity. If ever there was a time
to rise up personal resentments, this would be it. Yet, the stress of the
apparently world-shattering crisis only amplifies their angst and recriminations.
Behl never shows us the anarchy unfolding outside their
house-that-is-not-a-home, but the confusing sounds are often more alarming than
the half-baked visual effects of z-grade zombie grind-em-outs.
the compulsively tattooed Axel, Lautaro Delgado puts on an acting clinic. It is
eerie how eloquently his body language reflects his inner emotional turmoil. In
contrast, Ana’s erratic character is much harder to get a handle on, but Victoria
Almeida valiantly labors to sell each shift of her psyche. However, William
Prociuk bears watching as Jonathan, the ostensibly boorish engineer.
times, The Desert is too existential
for its own good. Nevertheless, Behl successfully reinvents the zombie film as
a four character-one set (for all intents and purposes) relationship drama,
which is a neat trick. An ambitiously subtle zombie outing that works rather
well on balance, The Desert is
recommended for adventurous genre fans when it screens again next Tuesday (8/5)
as part of this year’s Fantasia.
Labels: Argentine Cinema, Fantasia '14, Zombies