Film Review: What We Become

Danish filmmaker Bo Mikkelsen's variation on George Romero's 1973 'The Crazies' follows an ordinary family as civilization erodes around them.
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The Johanssonsparents Dino and Pernille (Troels Lyby, Mille Dinesen), teenaged Gustav (Benjamin Engell) and little Maj (Ella Solgaard)live in Sorgenfri, a pretty, suburb where nothing much happens and everyone is just fine with that. People keep their houses and lawns tidy, teenagers behave themselves in public and married couples do their arguing indoors. That's not to say life is perfect: Pernille feels as though she's always playing bad cop because Dino won't step up, Gustav is smitten with pretty neighbor Sonja (Marie Hammer Boda) but doesn't have a clue how to ask her out... pretty ordinary stuff. Oh. And there's a flu going around.

Soon it becomes clear that this is no ordinary flu. What exactly makes it so dangerous is at first unclear, but Sorgenfri is declared a "Temporary Control Zone,"  with police in riot gear sent in to make sure no one even thinks about breaking quarantine. Houses are shrouded in black plastic, food is delivered courtesy of the military, and the sick are whisked away in ambulances that don't come back.

Writer-director Mikkelsen opts for a boldly slow burn, given that five decades after Romero's Night of the Living Dead debutedand more pointedly, his follow up, The Crazies, in which a virus turns ordinary, small-town Pennsylvanians into rabid killersit doesn't take long for moviegoers to spot a brewing outbreak/breakdown. But Mikkelsen focuses on character first, giving audiences plenty of time to get to know the family before the real hell breaks loose. He makes it clear that the Johanssons are neither idiots nor paranoid preppers with a advance plan to ride out the total breakdown of society. Rather, they're about as quick adjust to the new world order as the average person would be, no matter how conversant with Living Dead/Walking Dead lore people generally are. All in all, the film is a worthy addition to the ever-swelling ranks zombie/pandemic fiction and should win the approval of genre enthusiasts who don't balk at subtitles.

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