The morning after a party, a young man wakes up to find Paris invaded by zombies.
Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Fanny (Sigrid Bouaziz) have broken up. That much is clear when the surprisingly original new film The Night Eats the World begins. There is a raging party going on as Sam returns to the apartment the couple shared. Fanny is happy he came, but he has no intention of staying. Sam just wants to chat with Fanny for a quick second, he wants to grab his tapes from his music room, then he is gone. Reluctantly, with a cocktail in hand, Sam heads to the back room to begin going through his items as he waits for his ex-girlfriend to have a spare minute for a final word. The night drags on and Sam, waiting, falls asleep in a familiar chair. It’s too bad because that seems to have been when the party really got going.
The next morning sleepy Sam comes to. Grabbing his box he walks out into the apartment only to notice that things are far from okay. In fact, unless destroyed furniture, debris was strewn on the floor and blood splatters on the walls are a normal occurrence after a Parisian penthouse party, things might be downright apocalyptic. Further indication that the world may have changed is the flesh-eating woman in the stairwell of the apartment that tries to attack Sam as he leaves. Yes, as Sam lay crashed in a sealed room, the zombie apocalypse hit Paris and he is a lone survivor.
“…as Sam lay crashed in a sealed room, the zombie apocalypse hit Paris and he is a lone survivor.”
The Night Eats the World tells the singular story of one man’s point of view during the unthinkable devastation of a world-changing tragedy. Instead of going for large-scale destruction and elaborate set pieces, this movie turns in on one man’s physical and psychological progression as the world he knows is instantly gone and he is confined to one space. Survival is an instinct at first as Sam secures the flat he is in. His isolated existence soon evolves from being one of self-serving to self-preserving, to the hope that there might just be more to life than inevitable death. Then, in the third act of the film, we are treated to a surprise that forces Sam to consider breaking his complacent routine. What will he do? Will he choose fulfillment or safety?
The film is at times a quiet, poignant even, look at isolation be it physical, emotional or otherwise. In what is, essentially, a one-man show, Lie’s performance as Sam anchors a narrative with remarkable strength and agility. Sam’s character is quiet and determined one moment, and needy and emotional in the next.
“…turns in on one man’s physical and psychological progression as the world he knows is instantly gone…”
Based on the novel by Pit Agarmen of the same name, The Night Eats the World is ingenious in the resources it goes after to create drama and storyline. Director Dominique Rocher is keen to keep angles, visuals, and story fresh in such a confined space. We never feel too claustrophobic, we never forget the impending danger of twitchy zombies clawing at the doors. Incidentally, these are a hybrid type that can run but aren’t nimble parkour masters. With a minimal use of score, we are allowed to hear the zombies drag their feet on the asphalt, we can hear their decaying sinew snapping and popping with each movement. It’s pretty glorious stuff.
I haven’t seen a zombie flick this good since 28 Days Later. Things are kept gritty, small-scale, and honest. Emotions are raw, human and relatable in a way that the overblown World War Z could only dream of. The gore is, surprisingly minimal, though it stands to reason that where there are zombies, there are brains. If you want a human story of survival told through the funhouse mirror of a zombie apocalypse, see The Night Eats The World.
The Night Eats the World (2018) Directed by Dominique Rocher. Written by Pit Agarmen, Jérémie Guez, Guillaume Lemans, Dominique Rocher. Starring Anders Danielsen Lie, Golshifteh Farahani, Denis Lavant.
8 out of 10