Sorgenfri, What We Become (2015)
Directed by: Bo Mikkelsen
Written by: Bo Mikkelsen
Starring: Benjamin Engell, Ella Solgaard, Marie Hammer Boda, Mikael Birkkjær, Mille Dinesen, Therese Damsgaard, Troels Lyby
WHAT WE BECOME (2015)
Written and Directed by Bo Mikkelsen
Danish language with English subtitles
A neighbourhood is suddenly put into lockdown after a virus outbreak at an old people’s home spreads into the wider area. When the military get involved and seal all residents in their homes, the citizens begin to panic and wonder how long this quarantine will last for. When all hell breaks loose, it’s a fight for survival as it’s only a matter of time before death comes banging at their door.
Bo Mikkelson’s impressive feature debut WHAT WE BECOME is an engrossing look at the events leading up to a viral outbreak which turns residents into the walking dead. Focusing on a family of four – mum Pernille, dad Dino, teenage son Gustav and young daughter Maj – we see how their normal lives are slowly turned inside out as they’re forced to stay indoors, lit by candlelight in perpetual darkness (thanks to the giant binbag sheets wrapped around their homes) and forced to make do with rationed food and water, which is running out quickly. The military seem to have the neighbourhood pretty much under control early on but with the residents knowing very little and the controlled media refusing to divulge the whole truth about events, it’s no wonder curiousity gets the better of them. Teenager Gustav has questions he wants answering and is determined to find out what’s going in, if only to check on his hot neighbour Sonja too. Breaking out of the house and sneaking to a nearby ‘field-hospital’, he witnesses the reality of what’s happening to the ‘sick patients’ and decides to unlock several trucks keeping them prisoner. That’s the moment when chaos ensues. So you could say that the rest of the film could have been prevented if goody-two-shoes-who-really-doesn’t-have-a-clue Gustav had have just let the military continue with their operation then everyone uninfected would have been alright. *slow hand clap for Gustav*
Whilst many zombie films focus on the shuffling brain eaters, more modern flicks, such as The Girl With All The Gifts and Maggie, have focused on the human relationship aspect. WHAT WE BECOME is also one of those, preferring to focus on the strained dynamic between the family members, their friends and community as they come to terms with the horror that’s unfolding on their doorstep. Gustav’s lust for the girl across the road puts all their lives in jeopardy as he feels the need to break quarantine to be with her, especially when he sees her father being carted away by the military. It’s not just the relationship between the family that is highlight though. Another of the interesting relationships is that between loved-up couple Anna and Casper. Smooching publicly at a neighbourhood gathering, it doesn’t take long for the “perfect relationship” veil to fall when Casper begins coughing and spluttering once the virus infects the wider community.
I cannot fault a single performance in this movie. Everyone gives it their all, especially young Ella Solgaard as daughter Maj who’s in a desperate hunt for her adorable, fluffy white rabbit Ninnus just as the family are at breaking point. Whilst the film seems to cheer on young love and hope for the future, the actual outcome is quite uncertain as it would be in reality. How far does the quarantine stretch and what’s life like outside their neighbourhood of Sorgenfri? I guess we’ll never know…
A strong character-based narrative with a splendid visual execution makes Bo Mikkelsen a filmmaker to watch!