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« Tribeca 2018: To Dust | Main | Jason Reitman & Diablo Cody, Round Three! »

Tribeca 2018: The Night Eats the World

by Jason Adams

Post-apocalyptic fiction exists for basically one reason and one reason alone - for us to contemplate what kind of people we are. Meaning deep down, when it really comes down to it - the life and death stuff. Are we the sort of person who would suddenly find wells of inner strength to overcome? Are we a survivor? Or are we gristle caught in a ghoul's teeth? And since there's not a massive audience for movies about watching somebody die slowly and terribly of a real-world disease like cancer, voila, zombie movies. They let us wrestle, through the safe filter of fantasy, not just with our own mortality but with the mortality of everyone we know...

We don't learn very much about Sam before the world ends (hey the spoiler's in the title) in The Night That Eats the World - night comes quick you see. Isn't that always the case? Sam (played with intimate gusto by Joachim Trier regular Anders Danielsen Lie) shows up at a party he clearly doesn't want to be at in order to pick up some of his stuff from an ex. And then, like the inversion of a Bunuel gag, he never gets to leave the party again. Trapped in an apartment building like a shipwrecked islander, floating adrift on a sea of urban death, we get to know Sam a little better.

We've seen so many zombie movies at this point, in the sixteen years since Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later jacked up the genre to eleven, that you're right to ask yourself: what does yet another one have to offer? Well even with all the tricks and twists on the genre that I've seen before I don't know that I've yet experienced one as marvelously interiorized as The Night That Eats the World - director Dominique Rocher and writer Jérémie Guez really pare this thing down to that essential question. What kind of a person is Sam? The film is keen just to sit and wait and wait and wait and see.

I was too. Having watched all of this zombie fiction over the years I've had the opportunity to ask myself that essential question time and time again: how would I survive one of these things? And The Night That Eats the World plays out like a perfectly observed play of what I've heretofore imagined of myself. This right here, this is how I would handle it. It's not that it's aspirational, really, although Sam does a good enough job with the basics. It's more that I finally saw a lot of myself - my isolationist tendencies, my shyness, my only-child self-instincts - being spoken to. Given voice above the undead horde. This, for all the blood and guts, is maybe who I am. And that's a real something special - when genre bites you good. Sinks its teeth in. This is one to chew.

Night Eats the World plays Tribeca Sun 4/22 (9:15 PM), Mon 4/23 (9:45 PM), and Fri 4/27 (9:30 PM)

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Reader Comments (1)

Anders Danielsen Lie is such a fine actor; I’m glad he’s getting roles. When I think of how actors project having a soul, I think of him. He’s soulful not only in the Trier films but in something like his cameo for “Personal Shopper,” where he seemed so much more 3D than Kristen Stewart (imo better in smaller roles like “Sils Maria”). And he can speak with a perfect American accent.

April 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwen Walter

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