NYFF57 review: ‘Zombi Child’

ZOMBIE CHILD

  • Bertrand Bonello
  • 2019
  • France
  • 103 minutes
  • Subtitled
  • Opens January 24, 2020

Bertrand Bonello injects urgency and history into the well-worn walking-dead genre with this unconventional plunge into horror-fantasy, moving fluidly between 1962 Haiti, where a young man known as Clairvius Narcisse is made into a zombie by his resentful brother, and a contemporary Paris girls’ boarding school attended by Clairvius’s direct descendant.

This film has a unique narrative style. Long takes establishing backstory are a stark contrast to the teen angst-driven by voice-over lover letters. Weaving strange but true history about zombification and a young girl’s adolescent heartbreak, Zombi Child presents a story about the lengths we’ll go for love. Cinematically beautiful natural light adds to the atmosphere. Performances are everywhere from subtly grounded to flamboyant and frightening. The script is unexpected but the end result is a bit of a fever dream that will hypnotize audiences.

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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