The Only Thing Keeping ‘What We Become’ From Being an Exceptional Zombie Movie Is Familiarity


Stop me if you’ve heard this before. There’s an infection, and the government sets up a quarantine zone. Residents are told to stay inside their houses, but at night soldiers extract them from their homes, struggling or in body bags. People get sick, die, then rise again to claw and bite and rend.

In our zombie-glutted media landscape, this is familiar territory; we know what’s coming, pretty much beat for beat. Bo Mikkelsen’s What We Become plays this old song uncommonly well, but the melody is still commonplace. Even the film’s location, the Copenhagen neighborhood of Sorgenfri, doesn’t help it stand apart (although the Danish setting probably accounts for the civilians having only one gun among them, unlike the characters in most American-made entertainment, zombie-related or otherwise).

There are some highlights, including a darkly comic scene involving a pet rabbit. And to its benefit, the film is absolutely spartan in its distribution of the zombies themselves, holding them back longer than seems possible until the screen suddenly bursts with them.

Undead fare has to break new ground to stand out from the ravenous crowd, something What We Become never attempts. What might have been the best zombie movie of 2004 can’t help looking a little sickly in 2016.

What We Become

Written and directed by Bo Mikkelsen

IFC Midnight

Opens May 13, IFC Center