Wednesday, October 7, 2020

EVER AFTER (aka ENDZEIT) (2018) Blu-ray Review

SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 6
Total First Time Views: 5
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $380.22

Ever After (aka Endzeit) (2018) d. Carolina Hellsgård (Germany) (90 min) (1st viewing)

In the wake of your standard-issue fast-running zombie epidemic, the world’s gaze turns to Germany where the only two surviving cities, Weimar and Jura, have each successfully created a perimeter barrier against the undead hordes. A locomotive shuttles between them on occasion but, on the whole, they remain isolated from one another. In Weimar, where infection is dealt with swiftly and lethally, shell-shocked adolescent Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) is pressed into duty fortifying the barricades until she witnesses the harsh reality of what happens should anyone – in this case her best friend – be bitten. She escapes, hopping the transport train to Jura (whose residents are supposedly seeking a cure for the virus) with the stoic, strong, and cynical Eva (Maja Lehrer), hoping against hope to survive the trip.

The multitude of zombie movies over the past 20 years has expanded the subgenre so far that it’s almost a cliché to say that “______ is a different kind of zombie movie,” yet it’s clear that this is exactly what screenwriter Olivia Vieweg and director Hellsgård have set out to make. In fact, some (including this reviewer) might argue that they didn’t even want to make a zombie movie but are simply using the backdrop as a more commercial means of telling their intended story. This is not meant as a dig – many filmmakers have successfully chosen to work within the genre in order to explore human foibles and present extreme circumstances for characters to grapple and confront.

Originating within familiar horror trappings, Hellsgård and her able (and almost entirely female) cast and crew take a sharp left turn into fantasyland to explore grief and isolation, and also humanity’s role within Nature. During Vivi and Eva’s impromptu road trip – the train breaks down on the tracks, forcing them to continue on foot – allows them to see the world recovering from the plague of Homo sapiens. While the populated cities are shot in harsh grays and muddy browns, the world beyond Weimar is seen as lush and thriving.

Sure, there is the occasional gut-muncher lurking around the next bend or in the valley or underwater or… okay, let’s face it, the undead menace is definitely out there in force. But at least they aren’t polluting! And that seems to be Ever After’s Big Statement, as we watch our odd couple sharing the landscape with exotic flora and fauna. It’s as though the Earth were enjoying a giant sigh of relief, even as our human protagonists struggle toward their potential doom.

As the title might suggest (the literal translation of the German title, Endzeit, “Endtime” or “Last Moments,” is equally poetic), there is a certain fairy tale aspect to the proceedings: “Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Vivi…” and things only grow more fanciful with the introduction of an Ent-like character (Barbara Phillip) whose root-like tendrils growing from her temples and soothing doomsayings mark her as a fairy godmother type. While there are moments of action and bloodshed (including an undead variation I had not seen before, which is impressive to say the least), the overall tone of the film is a potent blend of melancholy and hope, the passing from one phase into another.

While it might not appeal to casual fans of The Walking Dead, kudos are definitely due to Hellsgård and her collaborators for exploring the end of the world through a unique, kinder, and gentler lens.


Theatrical Trailers

Ever After is available now on Blu-ray from MVD Visual and can be ordered HERE:

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