What We Become
Shout Factory // Unrated // $29.99 // October 18, 2016
Review by Ian Jane | posted October 17, 2016
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Graphical Version

The Movie:

Sorgenfri, retitled What We Become for its North American release via IFC Films, was written and directed by Danish filmmaer Bo Mikkelsen. The story isn't particularly complex, but it is effective and while this has been marketed in such a way as to make it look like another run of the mill zombie film, the picture has more in common with ‘outbreak' style pictures. As such, it's more akin in some ways to Romero's The Crazies than it is to Dawn Of The Dead.

Dino (Troels Lyby) Johansson, his wife Pernille (Mille Dinesen) and their teenaged kids Gustav (Benjamin Engell) and Maj (Ella Solgaard) lead a fairly normal life. Summer is encroaching and things are quiet in the suburbs where they live. Gustav's got eyes for the new girl in town, Sonja (Marie Hammer Boda), who just moved in next door. This is a horror movie though, so there has to be more than that, right? Soon enough, we start hearing news reports and learning, along with the Johansson family, that there's a virus spreading through the area. They don't pay it a whole lot of mind at first but things get… weirder quite quickly. One of the old ladies in the area loses her husband but when others arrive on the scene, the body has gone missing. You start to know where this one is headed pretty early on in the film.

Soon enough, the government moves in. Not politicians, but rather those guys in haz-mat suits with protective masks, armed to the teeth and cruising around in armored vehicles. They start quarantining certain houses, taking away anyone who shows even the slightest sign of a possible infection. They effectively put marshal law into place, no one is allowed to leave the suburb, if they try, well, the gun shots that we hear late at night answer that question. As the Johansson's try to figure out what exactly is going on and how to deal with it, there are signs that maybe the government didn't do as good a job locking all of this down as they initially thought.

What We Become is not a particularly original film. It drinks deep from the well of classic George Romero films and also borrows, sometimes fairly heavily, from films like 28 Days Later and TV series like The Walking Dead. Even those who don't eat, drink and sleep zombie movies will have no trouble figuring out what's happening and how it will all play out. There aren't a lot of surprises here and a strong air of familiarity hangs over the movie from start to finish.

Having said that, this is worth a watch. What makes this work isn't the premise, that's been done to death at this point, but rather the characters and the performances. The Johansson's feel like a real family. That means that for all the love they clearly share, they will bicker and they will fight and they will bicker and they will come into conflict with one another when they disagree. As tensions rise due to outside factors, so too do they rise in the family environment. There are a couple of subplots that fill things out a little bit, the best example being Gustav's affections for Sonja, but for the most part this revolves around the Johansson's efforts to get through all of this with their family unit intact. The performances from all four of the key players are good enough to sell this aspect of the movie.

That might make it sound like the film lacks in horror movie elements, but it doesn't. It's got a few zombie attack scenes, some jump scares and some genuinely chilling imagery of the government locking down the neighborhood. The pace is really good and the movie is quick with its pacing. This is lean and efficient filmmaking, Mikkelson has full control over what he's doing here. It's hard to get too wrapped up in something that is as ‘been there, done that' as this picture is, but if you don't mind the formulaic aspect of the plot, there's some good entertainment to be had here.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

What We Become arrives on Blu-ray in a beautiful AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.40.1 widescreen. Although much of the film takes place at night in fairly dim light, colors are still really nicely reproduced here, especially the day time scenes that take place outside in the forest. Skin tones look good, detail is consistently impressive and black levels are nice and strong. The image is free of any compression artifacts or obvious edge enhancement and shadow detail is pretty solid. This is a really strong picture, the movie looks great on Blu-ray. The film was shot digitally so there's no print damage, dirt or debris to note.

Sound:

A Danish language DTS-HD track is provided in 5.1 and is sounds quite good. The 5.1 mix does a great job of spreading out some of the effects and the score and it sounds quite good. The last half of the movie uses a fairly aggressive sound mix and the rear channels get a bit of a work out here. Bass is strong and powerful without burying things while dialogue stays clean, clear and easily discernible. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

Extras:

Extras are limited to a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter stop however this is a combo pack release so a DVD version of the movie is also included inside the Blu-ray case.

Final Thoughts:

What We Become is derivative, make no mistake about it, but it's also well done and worth seeing once. Thanks to some well-written and interesting characters this one stands out from the ever expanding horde of recent zombie movies, and it's got solid atmosphere and some good effects work. The Blu-ray release is light on extras but it does look and sound very good. Rent it.



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