TIFF 2018 Review: Endzeit
After a zombie apocalypse, only two German cities remain human. Two young women, Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and Eva (Maja Lehrer), attempting to travel between the safe havens, become stranded and must fend for themselves in Endzeit, director Carolina Hellsgård’s sophomore feature. Unique in its gendered division (not only are there no substantial male roles in the film, but all major creative roles behind the scenes were performed by women), the film unfortunately falls flat.
While there is much to praise about Endzeit, its successful originalities are frequently met with tired convention. The zombies in this film have a botanical twist, which develops intriguingly in its comment on nature and ecological issues, while the aesthetic (the typical rotting bodies blooming with sprouts, wildflowers, and vibrant moss) adds a definite visual interest. The overall pastoral vibe of the film, as Vivi and Eva trek through serene forests, is a welcomed change to the usual post-apocalyptic look. But when it comes to the protagonists, they are sadly underdeveloped. The two women, wounded physically and mentally, react with basic character types (fragile Vivi drowns in her vulnerability while tough, capable Eva denies her emotions to survive), which leads to boring predicability: the characters feel almost condescending in how basic they are. While not a bad film, with such striking visuals, and with true originality in how the film approaches its genre, it is deeply disappointing that Endzeit was not just slightly better.