DIRECTOR Christoph Behl WRITER Christoph Behl STARS Victoria Almeida; Lautaro Delgado; Lucas Lagré DVD 11 May
REVIEW Lloyd Haynes
Written and directed by German-born Christoph Behl, this Argentine production — also released as El Desierto and The Desert — is much more of a domestic drama than a conventional horror film, and is an intelligent addition to the post-apocalyptic, post-Romero zombie cycle.
Axel (Lautaro Delgardo), Ana (Victoria Almeida) and Jonathan (William Prociuk) have survived the ravages of a zombie plague by barricading themselves within a small house. Jonathan is the more practical and level-headed of the group but with a cruel dimension to his character, while Ana (who applies Greek names such as Medea, Hades and Aristotle to each of her zombie kills) is the emotional centre, and the tattooed, taciturn Axel its mysterious and unpredictable figure. The tension between this ‘family’ is pushed increasingly towards breaking point: Ana and Jonathan are in a rapidly disintegrating relationship, with Axel caught somewhere in-between. In an echo of the Bub character in Romero’s Day of the Dead, an addition to the family is Alejandro (Lucas Lagré), a zombie captured for a dare and kept muzzled and chained in the house. Unlike with Bub, however, there is no attempt to understand the unfortunate creature; instead, he is tortured by the group in a further indication of their own rapidly deteriorating psychological states.
Essentially a chamber piece, with the action rarely straying beyond the confines of the claustrophobic abode, the film is not without its flaws: Ana’s camcorder monologues are a distraction, and the role of the captive zombie could have been elaborated upon. However What’s Left of Us boasts strong, edgy performances from the three leads (Almeida is particularly impressive) and a script which prefers to focus on the here and now rather than allowing itself to become sidetracked with excessive backstory (what we learn of the characters’ histories is presented in small fragments). Aside from the acting and direction, the editing by Fernando Vega and Gustavo Biazzi’s restless, prowling camerawork are also worthy of note.