The female-driven zombie film Endzeit (Ever After) premiered to a sold out theatre at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, which also recently held the world premiere of Shane Black’s The Predator, and David Gordon Green’s Halloween. Directed by German filmmaker Carolina Hellsgård, Endzeit is written by Olivia Vieweg (adapting from her own graphic novel), produced by Claudia Schröter, and stars Gro Swantje Kohlhof & Maja Lehrer. But it doesn’t end there! The film is executive produced Ingelore König, shot by Leah Striker, edited by Ruth Schönegge, with production design by Jenny Roesler, and an original score from Franziska Henke.
Endzeit is a unique, artistic depiction of a familiar wasteland and contains probably the single most interesting zombie in years. What we tend to forget is that real people become zombies. We all love decomposing members of the undead with jaw bones and rib cages exposed, but that flesh eating monster was once an accountant, or an athlete, or deaf. Seeing those traits, and those limitations brought into the creation of a monster is what breathes new life into the overworked zombie sub-genre.
“[Endzeit] breathes new life into the overworked zombie sub-genre.”
It’s been two years since the zombie outbreak but for 22-year-old Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and 26-year-old Eva (Maja Lehrer) it already feels like an eternity. It didn’t take long for the virus to spread and for society collapse, leaving a barren wasteland of scared survivors to battle the elements and outrun an ever growing horde of flesh-eating monsters. Only two German cities remain: Weimar, a brutal and unforgiving camp of hunter-gatherers and Jena, a base said to be civilized and scientifically driven. No one has set outside their respective cities, but with the promise of cure just over the horizon, Vivi and Eva can’t help but assume the grass grows greener in Jena.
Making their escapes, the two woman independently board an unmanned supply train headed for the promised land. The two aren’t fond of each other but realizing they’ll need help to survive, make an effort to not strangle one another. Everything seems to be going fine as they count down the miles to Jena, until the train breaks down leaving them stranded and vulnerable. Knowing the supplies are too valuable to be left unaccounted for, Viva and Eva post up and wait for a rescue crew. Of course, zombies care little for your plans and in late night attack, the two are forced out into the countryside, alone.
Having escaped the drudgery of fence building and psychiatric analysis, our characters are left to enjoy the world in its most peaceful state. They return to nature, sleeping under a night sky littered with stars that until recently were hidden by pollution and city lights. Viva likens the apocalypse to an abrupt eviction notice from an exhausted, old landlady worn down by years of abuse and destruction to her property. She’s tired of unwelcome tenants taking advantage of her good nature, making a mess of the place and it’s time to clean house and start fresh.
Like some of your recent favourites, Endzeit presents the end of the world as the beginning of another. Like 2016’s Girl With All The Gifts and recent Fantasia find Dans La Brume (A Breath Away), Hellsgard’s Endzeit offers a modern look at the zombie outbreak as a great filter by which we are meant to pass and perish. Mankind’s time is up but from the graves of those unfortunate souls, a new lifeform will rise. Like tilling soil and composting spoiled crop, humans are returned to the earth as fertilizer for a new creature, one meek and mannered, respectful of the world it has inherited.
“Endzeit is a maximalistic female buddy movie set in the German apocalypse. It depicts the friendship of two young women, who are forced to emancipate themselves in order to survive”
As described by director Carolina Hellsgård, “Endzeit is a maximalistic female buddy movie set in the German apocalypse. It depicts the friendship of two young women, who are forced to emancipate themselves in order to survive”. Not your typical zombie apocalypse, Endzeit is an eco-consious horror from an all-female crew and predominantly female cast. The women in Endzeit are tough, tortured, and stand on their own two feet. As Vivi explains, the characters in the world of the film are all people that chose to protect themselves. Those decisions lead to their survival but they are left to wander through a world of ruthless, unrelenting horror they passively enabled.
Endzeit is a think-woman’s zombie film, loaded with compelling imagery and high-concept discussions on mankind’s fate. As all zombie films, it reminds us that we are only one aggressive disaster away from complete and utter destruction, but it takes it’s time to comfort us and show that there truly is no end. The sun never goes down, but we are too small and too focused on ourselves to see beyond the horizon. Endzeit is a very indie production but an ambitious story that stretches as far as it can to tell a unique and fantastical story.
Endzeit celebrated its world premiere Friday September 7th at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival as an official selection of the festival’s Discovery programme. Check out more of Nightmare on Film Street’s TIFF Coverage here, and be sure to sound off with your thoughts over on Twitter and in our Facebook Group!