ENTOMBED ** Norway 2020 Dir: Kjell Hammerø. 88 mins
Isolation was a slightly upbeat song from the band Joy Division. Now even more so it has become a theme for the horror film. ENTOMBED (2020) is another entry in the ‘down in a hole” sub-genre along with 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016), the original MARTYRS (2008), the SAW series and others that in my opinion are thrillers.
ENTOMBED (2020) is the work of Kjell Hammerø who wrote, directed and edited the eighty-eight-minute film. The story is in the bleak near-future filled with fog where zombies known as Walkers are menacing the living. Grubby, bearded Seamus (Jan Neal Holden) is on a run when finds an underground shelter. Stumbling down the ladder, barely escaping the pursuing Walker, Seamus finds he is not alone in his underground haven. He is looking around when he is unceremoniously knocked cold only to wake up to find he is in the presence of Konrad (Sigurd Aae Klausen). Konrad interrogates Seamus on how he found the secret lair. He also reviews he lost his daughter during his flight to safety. Konrad and Seamus resolve to search for the cabin Seamus knows of to restock provisions. The two warm more to each other even to the point of Konrad providing homemade hooch. He later reveals that his wife Mila is in a coma and is laying in a small alcove.
The real monsters are the humans, not the walkers above. The idea has been shown in the relentless Walking Dead series and its spinoff which I have only watched five minutes of. I simply cannot see how one can sustain a story in that environment.
ENTOMBED (2020) does not have a large budget yet it impresses with cinematography. Good colour pallet with imaginative lighting of dark caves, foggy forests. The is little gore in the film which is surprising for a zombie film which means could not be what many want to see. The film has the look and feel of a stage play in places particularly in the opening moments with Konrad and Seamus. Seamus is on the ground looking up to Konrad who is leaning towards him in a chair.
My background in theatrical directing kicked in here when you can create a scene of this nature on multi-levels of standing, leaning, in the film you can add close up, cut to the gun in hand, close up muzzle with a safety click sound. The direction of the scene is static emphasizing the dialogue. Of course, setup takes money and time which this picture perhaps did not have however this opening sets the tone for a slow-moving film. The plus is all actors do a good job, especially considering that they play in English which is not their native language. The film is not dubbed or subtitled despite its country of origin. The film is the first English feature for the director in looking at his previous work likely to get a widening audience.
ENTOMBED (2020) which has won or been nominated for many awards is an actor’s piece with a zombie setup that is not used effectively enough. However, the slow burn doesn’t work in many places with lovely sets and monsters not used effectively. Love the look yet the story gets consumed in the darkness.
Review by Terry Sherwood