Review: What We Become/Sorgenfri (2015)

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It has taken me some time to write this review – mainly because I started with the reaction that it was a perfectly serviceable, by-the-numbers zombie film.  That reaction, over time, has turned into one of confusion – does anyone really want to make a standard zombie film?

Zombie films have always been a comment on the damaging effects of mass society, capitalist greed and government control and What We Become is no different.  I mean that literally – there is nothing within the film that hasn’t been done elsewhere.  An attempt to differentiate it by offering a comparison to the refugee crisis offered a moment of hope that it might take a new direction, but unfortunately the comparison is far too brief to make an impact.  Rather than being expanded into a new Euro-centric, culturally relevant direction, we return instead to carbon copies of other zombie film ‘moments’.

Despite this, the technical aspects of the film are of high quality, with a glossy, higher budget look to everything.  The other element that is worth praising within the film is the cast.  In the hands of a less talented and watchable cast the film could be judged much more harshly.  The central family, although they are playing practically stock characters put enough into their performances that you tend to go along with it, even when you are thinking in the back of your mind, ‘Didn’t The Walking Dead do this exact scene a few seasons ago?’

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Other obligatory zombie film references include Night of the Living Dead – something which is foreshadowed by the poster.  A quick look at the IMDB trivia page (hardly a source of reliable knowledge, but still) states that this is the first zombie apocalypse film made in Denmark.  This perhaps explains the apparent reluctance to deviate too much from the form.  The selling point of the film then, is the fact that it is set in Denmark.  The problem with that, then, is the fact that there is nothing particularly Danish about the film.  The multiple references to other zombie media do nothing to separate the environment of What We Become from any other numbers of American-made zombie films.

Overall, What We Become, is enjoyable, provided you don’t mind knowing from the beginning exactly what will happen and in what order.  The film-making and acting is of high-quality and so it seems doubly disappointing that nothing new has been done with the format.  It would be very interesting to see what the same cast could do with a format less reliant on those things that have gone before.

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