If you need something to watch on Halloween, or any other night, and don’t want to be overly scared (read: not scared at all) but still want to feel like you’re taking part in the spooky fun then watch What We Become. If you just need a zombie fix, then this will suffice. If you want to actually watch a good horror movie because it’s Halloween then I suggest you keep on surfing. Mediocre acting, poor pacing, disjointed story telling, and a very disturbing romance arc all lead to a messy and just bad ending. What We Become never really even tries to explore what it is we would become under these circumstances, which is a real missed opportunity and one I was very hopeful they would capture. Oh, and if you like rabbits keep moving, there’s nothing you want to see here. – 2.6/5 (genre)
What We Become is a very standard modern zombie rule set movie with an easy feel too it. How and why those things are combined is beyond me, but the styles (clothes and hair) and the synthesizer all say late eighties. So I guess in that way it’s a little different since it’s pretty much like modern zombies invaded the 80’s and What We Become is what we ended up with. That isn’t to say that this was in any way a good idea, but still it’s any interesting aside.
Unfortunately this movie never really lives up to its name, with both the trailer and name giving the suggestion that we are going to get more of a philosophical take on the begins of a zombie outbreak. At first it really feels this way too. We start out focused on a family of four Pernille (Mille Dinesen) the mother, Dino (Troels Lyby) the father, Gustav (Benjamin Engell) the son, and Maj (Therese Damsgaard) the daughter. The first 30 seconds of the movie really give away where things are going to go and how we should expect this to end, which takes away I think from what could have been a fairly emotional moment. That is, I mean, had they made me at all emotionally invested with the characters. I think I was more invested in the rabbit than the people.
At any rate, the movie goes back to where it begins and we find the family going to a neighborhood party and new neighbors move in across the street from them. The only member of this family that will play any real part is Sonja (Marie Hammer Boda) their teenage daughter, whom Gustav is immediately in love with. I say love but I apparently mean creepy obsessed with, I mean the very first thing he does after they move in is set up in his bedroom which looks into Sonja’s and watch her undress with binoculars. She catches him, but instead of being upset with him when he talks to her the next day she seems to think it’s perfectly fine. And quite the brave move talking to a woman after she caught you spying on her from your bedroom.
Despite the creep factor, I was hopeful of a rather insightful movie dealing with the interpersonal toll on a family (and friends) that a crisis of this nature would have. We hear all over the news that there is a virus that is spreading and that a cordon is being setup. One the elderly neighbors at the party says that her husband is dead on the floor in her living room and when Dino checks it out he finds nothing. A short time later the military moves in and starts draping homes in giant hefty garbage bags and hosing down the neighborhood, I can only assume to try and stop the virus from spreading. There are some great opportunities for development of the family aspect here since they are trapped in their home with no where to go without being shot out right by the military, but this gets very lost in the focus on Gustav and his continuing creepy pursuit of Sonja (more binoculars). The most emotionally charged moment was when everyone is eating a stew (food supplies were low) and Maj comes by looking for her pet rabbit, and it is obvious what is for dinner. That is the only time I felt anything akin to dismay for these people, especially Maj as they lied to her and told her he ran away.
Does it feel like I skipped a whole bunch there? There was party, a missing old man and suddenly were in full military lock down with garbage bags. If it does that’s because I didn’t, the movie did. We go from normal, to a little strange, to full on isolation with almost no explanation. At one point they are checking people for infection by having them open their mouth’s and checking, well, something though they never explain what it is that defines you are infected. Then things get really fun as the military goes into Sonja’s house one night, shots are fired and they leave. Of course Gustav, Sonja’s self proclaimed protector, springs into action and immediately sneaks out to check on her, dodging even the most skilled military personal due to their utter lack of interest in anything related to their job. Essentially they always turn away at just the right time, never notice his breath in the air or any of the noises he makes crawling through bushes.
But after seeing Sonja is okay Gustav decides that’s not enough and he goes to investigate the school that is setup an an emergency hospital. To not give away too much let’s just say the real cause of the surge of zombies is a dumb, and horny teenage boy. Two sex scenes (very mild fortunately for us) take place between Gustav and Sonja once they join his family in their house. One even happens after Sonja has had to kill her own mother quite brutally. I don’t know about Gustav, but that kinda tips the scales on whether this is someone you want to be with, but being a teenage boy blinds you to that sort of thing I suppose. I mean what’s a knife to her mother’s in comparison to the greater threat of not getting laid during the zombie apocalypse.
So what are some good parts of What We Become? It builds most of it’s tension through atmosphere and off screen sounds, in fact it’s careful not to show us a zombie until very late in the movie. The music, while being of the 80’s variety, does add to some of the tension and you can tell at least some thought went into it. And then there’s the scene that is, and should have been the hallmark of the movie, when Dino and Pernille have to make a choice about their daughter and the resultant consequences. This was the one aspect in which the movie held try to it’s title, as I felt it was a reference to what we as people become when face with something so horrible. There was actually very little blood for this type of movie, an actually refreshing thing after the blood baths that most recent zombie movies and shows have been (not saying I don’t like them, it’s just nice to see that this can be done without buckets of fake blood). By far the best actor of the movie was Therese Damsgaard (Maj), who had the least lines and yet the most poignant scene in the movie. The others weren’t bad they we’re really just mediocre, believable but not compelling at all. Dino is the best example of this, in the first 10 minutes he just up and walks away while his wife is talking and goes outside to the party without her. Wow, rude much?
Sadly these were the highlights of the movie. The story tries to pace itself slowly so we can get a feel for the emotional impact this is having on the family and neighborhood but in the end it just looses track of its pacing entirely. There are times where a scene cut away could be seconds or days with no warning either way. While the suspense of what the zombies would be like and when they were going to get to wreak their havoc is good, it’s overshadowed by the stilted and painful to watch “love” story line of Gustav and Sonja. And any feelings that we should have had for the people of the story are completely lost because despite spending so much time with them we never really get to know them at all. They are portrayed as just an average family, and we’re expected like and love them because of that, I guess because we should be able to relate. I didn’t.
The ending was a horrible mess that did two things all messy endings do: It didn’t really tie up any of the loose ends, like where did the virus come from? Why did the military just up and leave and what was their game plan for stopping the zombies? Secondly, it left everything open for a sequel. This gets it knocked down a bit in score on it’s own. Sequels can be good when they follow on the heels of something very strong, strong enough to carry the most often awful sequel through. But you should know when your movie isn’t strong enough to support this and just cut your losses. The two most unlikable characters get out and the chance of spreading the virus goes with them, while the better characters get mowed down. Gustav is not winning any brother of the year awards from Maj that’s for sure.
If you need something to watch on Halloween, or any other night, and don’t want to be overly scared (read: not scared at all) but still want to feel like you’re taking part in the spooky fun then watch What We Become. If you just need a zombie fix, then this will suffice. If you want to actually watch a good horror movie because it’s Halloween then I suggest you keep on surfing. Mediocre acting, poor pacing, disjointed story telling, and a very disturbing romance arc all lead to a messy and just bad ending. What We Become never really even tries to explore what it is we would become under these circumstances, which is a real missed opportunity and one I was very hopeful they would capture. Oh, and if you like rabbits keep moving, there’s nothing you want to see here.
Overall: 2.6/5 (genre)