What’s Left Of Us (2013) Review

wloucoverWhat’s Left of Us aka El Desierto (2013) Review

Director / Writer: Christophe Behl

Starring: Victoria Almeida, Lautaro Delgado, William Procuik

Running Time: 100 mins

UK Certificate: 18

Format: DVD / On-Demand

UK release 11th May 2015 from  Peccadillo Pictures

“This isn’t what it looks like. This is a family.”

Ana (Victoria Almeida) explains to the viewer the supposed reality of her existence with co-habitants Jonathan (William Procuik) and Axel (Lautaro Delgado), on home-recorded video filmed in their dwelling within a now mostly-silent suburb of Argentina.

The three protagonists of this story (written by German director Christophe Behl) have adapted to life in what is now a familiar horror staple – there’s not many people around any more, habitats are incredibly well-fortified and unsettling clankings, snarls and groans can be heard on the outside now and again. Yep, the ‘zed’ word doesn’t need to be spelled out in this flick and therefore it isn’t. The plot, in a nutshell, centres on the confinement of our cast (and several hundred flies) and how they are surviving in an upside-down turned world.

wlou1The location of their ‘adopted’ house (which the action never deviates from) is very well designed, with its makeshift fences and doorways and zip-sheeted coverings from room-to-room, as a realistic apocalyptic setting. The three characters have taken to recording their thoughts and frustrations (mostly concerning a complex and tortured love triangle) in a private ‘Consulting Room’, speaking candidly to the camera and filing the finished video cassettes into a locked chest. However, as is so often the case with these best-laid plans, this rule they are meant to adhere to, along with others, begins to become bent, ignored or over-ridden, leading to tensions and heartbreak.

And these tensions are the key point to this stylish horror film – it showcases the lately-emerging phenomena of the ‘zom-drama’ (to coin a less-than-catchy title for it). One IMDB review I read commented that the piece could easily be performed as a theatre production and this is certainly true due to the singular location and heavy focus on the character relationships, and each one’s expression of their difficulties to struggle on mentally and emotionally. As with a number of ‘infection’-based films and TV shows of the last decade or so (e.g. The Walking Dead at times – although of course at others that’s still zombie-thrill through and through!), the personal drama here is so much the focus and so absorbing that one almost forgets what’s going on ‘out there’ – the turned world is secondary to the dynamics played out by our trapped trio.

Indeed, forgetting the outside threat is made easier by the fact that not many shuffling types are really seen here and the fright factor is not whacked up high. Okay, so of course I may be losing some of the more gore-inclined of our readers here on the matter of giving this film a watch, but please don’t let the lack of out-and-out scares put you off – this is well worth any horror fan’s time. The three actors are convincing and compelling in their roles – Lautaro Delgado in particular as the brooding Axel, and Almeida as the conflicted lone female near breaking point. The editing is effective and the cinematography understated, yet constantly keeps up that feeling of intrusiveness and claustrophobia. Even the ‘head zombie’ here is portrayed (excellently by Lucas Lagre) in an original light – staring both intently and never quite vacantly at what the living can’t see, and moving in a jittery, almost equine fashion that is neither ‘Bob’ nor beserker.

wlou2The bottom line is, if you want a film that’s a chomp-fest and has you jumping three feet from your seat regularly, there’s going to be little to interest you in ‘What’s Left of Us’ – but if you like your horror more ‘high-class’ with a good slice of human interest and drama, you will enjoy it just as much as I did. Behl has created an original concept here and used fine actors to bring it to fruition, avoiding jump-scare tactics and reminding us that sometimes the psychological really is scarier, through highlighting a fear of lack of privacy, living in close quarters and the perils of obsession and indeed true love, right up to the saddening, nihilistic ending. He has also managed to think up an innovative way of showing the passage of time within the film (watch and see). ‘What’s Left of Us’, all in all, is something of a gem and left me truly impressed and pleased I got the chance to view it. Don’t let this one pass you by.

8/10

WHAT’S LEFT OF US is released on DVD and On-Demand from Peccadillo Pictures. You can buy now from Amazon, Rakuten, HMV, iTunes and all other good retailers.

Rosie Gibbs

About Rosie Gibbs

'Devotee of Hammer Horror and John Carpenter films and I enjoy nothing more than a good horror film festival/ marathon! I assist primary school teachers by day over here in League of Gentleman country. Mum to one Little Ass Kicker, nervous driver and appreciator of the healing power of cheesecake baking. Chuffed to be contributing to UKHS - thanks for reading! \m/'
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