Danish short film, Zombiehagen, belies the recent trend of zombie films being more action than horror. In fact, director Jonas Ussing has created a film that not only thrills but manages to evoke some real emotional pathos in its brief running time, while using only a handful of actors.
Stars Simone Lykke and Casper Sloth portray survivors of some sort of zombie apocalypse — as it usually goes — who meet in the midst of madness and form a bond. To go into further detail would ruin much of Zombiehagen’s delight, which is the regular subversion of expectations as to how a film like this is supposed to go.
Simone wanders around carrying a bow and arrow, and it’s not until she’s been onscreen for a few minutes that the viewer realizes that it is in fact, the case that she has an arrow, singular. As she wanders into a soccer stadium, one begins to wonder exactly how this is all going to go, and it is spectacularly exciting.
That big setpiece in the soccer stadium is but one of a handful of scenes in which Ussing manages to infuse his film with actual terror. The soccer stadium even does double duty by presenting the viewer with a scene of adrenaline-fueled terror, but also one of emotional resonance, as well. When the realization that this was a supposed safe place, and that most of the zombies were likely survivors who’d banded together, there’s some real gloom that blooms in the viewer’s heart.
And those zombies: wow. They look decayed, and an early creature of the living dead, nicknamed “Toulouse,” looks like a million bucks. Big props to the special effects team for creating unique zombies which aren’t just the usual. For such a short film, Zombiehagen is an absolute delight, and well worth seeking out. From an arresting opening to a devastating finale, Jonas Ussing has crafted a wonderful film which will appease both fans of the zombie genre and reinvigorate those who feel it’s gotten stale.