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FILMS Italy

Review: The End?

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- Set for the most part in an office lift, Daniele Misischia’s first work envisions an apocalyptic Rome where a deadly virus transforms humans into the blood-thirsty undead

Review: The End?

Mega-congested Roman roads, a broken-down elevator and an invasion of zombies. Three hellish situations are meted out in quick succession by new 33 years-young director Daniele Misischia, who was previously a cameraman and second-unit director for the Manetti brothers. And it is, in fact, Marco and Antonio Manetti, the golden brothers of Italian genre cinema (Love and Bullets [+see also:
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 being their last success) who produced The End? [+see also:
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, an apocalyptic horror film set almost entirely in a lift. It was presented for the first time at London’s FrightFest in 2017, before travelling to the last Rome Film Fest, and it will soon be showing in Italian cinemas from 14 August onwards. 

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The all-out star of the film is Alessandro Roja (also the Manetti brothers’ lead in Song’e Napule [+see also:
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) who steps into the shoes of vain and arrogant businessman, Claudio Verona, as he tries to make his way to an important work meeting. But in so doing, not only must Claudio contend with the Lungotevere traffic, which is even more congested than usual, he is also forced to hold it together in the office elevator, which breaks down and jams just minutes before his appointment. The irritation of our young manager reaches record heights, as does his arrogance which is directed towards anyone who haplessly stumbles within firing range: from the man on the other end of the intercom (voice courtesy of Marco Manetti) who’s in no rush to get him out of the lift, to Claudio’s very own wife who dares to request he buy milk on the way home (it’s Carolina Crescentini who we hear). But when Claudio realises something terrible is happening on the other side of that elevator – namely, a deadly virus is turning people into zombies – he is forced to come back down to earth and to fight for his life.

The elevator stuck between two floors with its doors half-open - just enough to breathe and to see what’s going on outside – becomes, for our protagonist, a cage which renders him powerless, preventing him from helping those who need him (colleagues, friends and collaborators drop down dead before his very eyes), but it is also his salvation, a safe space which shelters him from the continual assaults of the “infected”. While those outside of the elevator are joining forces with the vile, blood-thirsty undead, Claudio’s journey inside those four metal walls is quite the reverse: he finds his humanity, his respect for others and a sense of solidarity, not to mention his love for his wife. This is a zombie-movie with intimist qualities: “Claudio isn’t a hero”, specifies Misischia, who also co-wrote the script with Cristiano Ceccotti, “the situation is absurd, but it does stay true to reality. Claudio’s character is that of an everyday, cynical man who becomes a better person as a result of this experience”. 

Shot over four weeks, The End? is a low-budget flick, but you wouldn’t know it. It’s well-directed, well-acted and technically accomplished – and a special mention should go to make-up, courtesy of Leonardo Cruciano – but the film loses itself somewhat as a result of the screenplay, especially in the second half where the attacks begin to feel repetitive and the action fails to progress as swiftly as we’d like. Nonetheless, it’s a promising first production for Mompracem, the brain-child of the Manetti bros. and Carlo Macchitella, and an outfit aimed at representing “an island of pirates in the sea of Italian cinema” (as stated by Marco Manetti), at making different films (“the type of films we like”) and at reviving Italian genre cinema as produced by Italian auteurs.

The End? is produced by Mompracem alongside Rai Cinema, and will be distributed from 14 August by 01. International distribution will be managed by Beta.

(Translated from Italian)

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