In a world where we seem to be flooded with an unrelenting horde of zombie releases year after year it’s great to see a unique take on the genre and The End? certainly offers that. Its premise is that of a man stuck in an elevator during the zombie apocalypse.
The movie opens with Claudio, a pretentious dick, being driven to work by a chauffeur, we know Claudio is a dick because the driver tries to make small talk and he smugly dismisses him. Shortly after, we catch Claudio getting a bit handsy with his mistress and co-worker in the soon to be doomed elevator. Usually a film will give you a hero, someone you can root for and even if they are an anti-hero you don’t hate them, within the first 10 minutes of the film you really hate Claudio and hope he is the first victim in this zombie apocalypse.
The movie jumps right into it with the elevator stalling and Claudio being even more of a dick to the elevator operator and the electrician via cell phone, we also learn from these scenes that Claudio has a wife and kid he is trying to get home too. Maybe there’s a silver lining? Finally, Claudio being frustrated with the delays attempts to pry open the elevator doors by hand which he only manages to get them open a little, this is when he witnesses hell.
The cinematography in this film is fantastic! Claudio is only able to get the elevator door slightly open and he’s caught in between floors, the film is great presenting the action from his perspective. Looking between the doors you can see some legs shuffling about, sometimes running. The zombie smashing action is sometimes off screen or around the corner, just outside of Claudio’s field of vision. The first batch of zombies chase his mistress to the elevator doors, as she reaches in for help from Claudio she is dragged away off screen. She returns moments later, zombified and hungry for flesh and Claudio is forced to kill her with the bannister from the elevator leaving her corpse face down looking into the elevator at Claudio. Shortly after, a co-worker named Sylvia appears, on the run from the zombie horde we see her bash in the head of a zombie, well not exactly, we see her legs, standing on one high heel as she off screen bashes in her zombified boss’s head, as she comes back into Claudio’s field of vision we see her blood soaked with a mangled, bloody golf club in her hand. Outstanding on the part of the director!
Numerous other office workers come and go, getting devoured by zombies and we start to see the good side of Claudio as he yells for the zombies to distract them from their next victim. This fails over and over. His cell phone, which mysteriously works in an elevator, shows more and more grim scenes of the world outside the confines of the elevator. Claudio finally gives up and accepts his fate, he taunts a few zombies to reach into the elevator but as he is about to sacrifice himself to them Marchello, a police officer, arrives and dispatches the zombies.
What follows is a great bit of storytelling and character growth through the second and third act as Claudio guides Marchello to the upper floors of the building via walkie talkie to kick start the generator and free him from the elevator. This comes with numerous twists and turns as Marchello has successes and failures along his journey. Claudio becomes brave for moments and then cowers in fear contemplating suicide facing his impending doom. Over the course of the film the smug asshole Claudio really starts to grow on you and by the end, well by the end you still think he’s a dick but you’re glad he survived.
Italy is known for its amazing horror scene from the 60’s through the 1990’s with legendary directors Umberto Lenzi, Lucio Fulci and Joe D’Amato but in recent decades Italy has largely been absent from the genre it defined. The End? is the debut horror entry for director Daniele Misischia which ranks up there with the greats, an underrated and obscure film which in the passing years should rise to cult status. 5 out of 5! An outstanding plot, great characters, great story telling, fantastic use of budget as the movie takes place in one location leaving enough budget to be attached to practical zombie effects that would make Tom Savini proud. The End? is a must watch available now streaming on Amazon Prime.
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