Written by Olivia Vieweg from her graphic novel, Endzeit — Ever After is a new German zombie film that is notable for having a woman in every major creative role in the crew. Set after a zombie apocalypse has left all but two German cities in ruin, the movie follows two women who set out to travel from one, a ruthlessly oppressive state, to the other, a supposed safe haven.
The film’s story feels much more interesting than your average zombie flick, even if it isn’t particularly more involved. At the core of the movie is a pretty standard survival thriller — the basis of most zombie movies — but towards the end of the second act, you can see the story shifting to something more abstract and nuanced. Although the film does miss some of its ambitious swings, it is far from a strike out, as there is plenty of good to be found in the movie.
For one, the film is extremely effective at building suspense, which is surprising given the minimal use of gore and jump scares. The first fifteen or so minutes are undoubtedly the most brutal and intense, and while none of the rest of the movie gets back to that level of tension, it is a perfect hook to draw you into the story and the world.
Furthermore, the purpose of the film seems to be to build the dichotomy between the beauty and horrors of the world we see. The first half of the movie feels dark and cold, whereas the second half feels warm and inviting. In many ways, elements of this film feel reminiscent of last year’s Annihilation in that, as you are drawn deeper and deeper into this world, you begin to understand its nuances and complexities.
One of the reasons why the movie works just as well as a drama as it does a horror is that the character development is so strong. From the beginning of the film, we care about these characters. Sure, there are a few scenes in which it seems as if their arcs are going to verge into archetypal territory, but the characters are nowhere near as generic as is usual for the genre.
Gro Swantje Kohlhof and Maja Lehrer portray the two leads of the movie, and they have great chemistry together. Lehrer is particularly good as Eva, the quiet worker with a knack for offing the undead. Since a majority of the film is only the two of them (and a few non-speaking zombies), their performances needed to be great and they delivered. Trine Dyrholm gives a brief but effective supporting turn too.
The movie also feels very deep on a thematic level. Obviously, there is the surface level commentary on environmentalism and how we are effectively killing our planet, but there is also a deeper level to the film. Some of the messages that the movie has to offer about fitting in and how we should each contribute to society are quite thought-provoking.
On a technical level, the film was really solid. It is nice to see a visually ambitious foreign horror movie like this. One does not usually associate foreign horror with high production values, but this film is clearly an exception. The effects for the gore are awesome (when they are necessary) and the design of the zombies looks great. The minimal CGI is very good too.
Endzeit — Ever After isn’t your average zombie movie, and that’s a good thing. It is something more substantive, thoughtful, and entertaining. If this ends up playing in a theater near you, run, don’t walk to see it.
Endzeit — Ever After is now playing in theaters.