George A. Romero’s legacy remains vibrant, even if the inhabitants of his Zombie movies remain as dead as ever.
When Land Of The Dead premiered some years ago when Romero was guest of honour, the opening afternoon showed the first three Dead films in chronological order and in London’s Leicester Square (on the Sunday morning of the weekend, we seem to recall) there was a ‘Zombie Walk’ in which made-up fans played soccer with a dead rubber head and scared the living hell out of the people by convening in slo-mo in a bookie and a bar near the cinema. This writer has fond memories of Romero’s presence and we were invited to ask questions after the film.
The latest offering to challenge for the late legend’s crown (which was produced by the same team that brought the 3D horror film Paura to an earlier event) is Daniele Misischia’s Italian zombie offering, The End? (Which co-organiser Alan Jones claimed into the pre-screening introduction was the title he gave the filmmakers, as the Italian title would not be something the audience would understand), is a fusion of the likes of Buried and Zombie Flesh-Eaters.
The comparisons with Buried, the Ryan Reynolds film that featured in a FrightFest at the earlier site of the Empire, are clear. Both Buried and this film deal with individuals in a single location, trapped through circumstance with limited communication means, though the hero of The End? Is above ground.
Things kick off quite quickly in downtown Rome when the hero, Claudio Verona, en route to a very important meeting, gets trapped in an elevator, unaware that the world has gone south forever. Before long, he is fighting a losing battle with the people on the other end of the intercom, before suddenly being struck with the dark and delirious revelation that the lunatics have taken over the asylum in dead zombie form.
With only a mobile phone and a limited view from a half-open elevator door, it is clear that he is going to improvise and adapt (as Eastwood told his recruits in Heartbreak Ridge) to survive the day and beyond….
The End? Is compact and claustrophobic enough at times and the performance of the lead actor Alessandro Roja captures the desperation of a man at odds with the increasingly apocalyptic circumstances. The camerawork and editing is slick enough and the gore effects would please aficionados of Giannetti Di Rossi and Tom Savini.
There is, however, a visual plot point that may confound observant viewers throughout the second half of the film– not to mention make the film fall apart in their minds (won’t reveal it here!).
Still, it’s nice to welcome back a proper Italian zombie movie after years of watching Fulci re-issues via the Arrow Video label and Misischia’s got the potential to become the new Argento as well.
THE END? / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: DANIELE MISISCHIA / SCREENPLAY: GIACOMO GABRIELLI, DANIELE MISISCHIA / STARRING: ALESSANDRO ROJA, EURIDICE AXEN, CLAUDIO CAMILLI, BENEDETTA CIMATTI / RELEASE DATE: UK RELEASE DATE TBA