Olivia Vieweg’s Endzeit (Ever After) is adapted from her graphic novel of the same name and her own screenplay. It depicts a world still in the throes of a zombie outbreak, where viable plants are a rarity. In Germany, only two cities are defended. One city, Weimar, kills their infected, while Jura works towards a cure. After a harrowing stint defending Weimar’s fence, two young women, Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof); naive, scared, and broken from a prior trauma, and Eva (Maja Lehrer); hardened and ruthless, flee the zombie-plagued city on an automated supply train, bound for Jura. The train breaks down in a rural area, far from anything, and the two women must fend for themselves in an environment that’s set on wiping them out. But even in this harsh and brutal terrain, there’s beauty springing up between the cracks.
The zombies in Endzeit are a natural disaster, a cleansing technique for an antagonistic Mother Nature that’s fed up with humanity. The undead here are full-on extensions of nature itself, complete with strangely beautiful mini-gardens growing from the places where their flesh has been ripped away. The combination of green plant matter and the horrific visages of the undead reminds me of two of my favourite recent post-apocalyptic films (both of which, like Endzeit, have a decidedly feminist bent); Alex Garland’s Annihilation and Colm McCarthy’s The Girl With All The Gifts. The balance between the hard-edged carnage and disarming sweetness comes through on multiple levels, even our protagonists, and is jarring in the best way, and imbues Endzeit with a unique look and feel. It’s richly-coloured, with none of the washed-out greys that typify the conventional presentation of the undead.
Endzeit is a real achievement for its all-female cast and crew. Director Carolina Hellsgård has brought Vieweg’s vision to life in a way that’s both accurate to the comic and still very unique. Kohlhof and Lehrer anchor the film perfectly, and the moments of tenderness between them make the savagery they face all the more affecting. In the end, Endzeit is easily worth your time, and I hope it finds an audience on VOD or DVD/BluRay. It’s a real testament to the idea that, maybe, the real zombies are the friends we met along the way.
Endzeit (Ever After) screens at the 2018 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival as part of its Discovery programme.