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What We Become (Blu-ray Review)

What-We-BecomeIFC Midnight and Scream Factory are teaming to bring the Danish zombie thriller What We Become to Blu-ray in the US for the first time.  The Bo Mikkelson film didn’t have much life theatrically, playing in just four theaters to open, but managed to find life through streaming services in Denmark and gradually moving around the globe to find viewers and appreciators.  Unlike other zombie/infected films, this one’s promise is to be much more character based with its build, only to have to watch the characters work together, butt heads and struggle to survive a deadly outbreak.  The film will be available on a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack from Scream Factory on October 18th, with plenty of time to have it to add some Danish flare to your October Halloween horror movie marathons leading up to the big day.

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Film 

The Johansson family — mom, dad, their rebellious teenage son, and young daughter — are looking forward to a quiet summer in their idyllic suburban town. But in the blink of an eye, things go from blissful to berserk when a horrifying plague tears through the community. After a string of grisly deaths, the government puts the neighborhood on lockdown. But one thing soon becomes terrifyingly clear: you can’t quarantine the apocalypse.

Hello, new zombie film on the block.  What is it you are offering?  Oh, you’re from Denmark.  That’s cool, what do you got?  A focus on character over zombie chomping and action, eh?  Okay, well, let’s give you a fair shake and see how you stack up!

Indeed, What We Become really is a character focused zombie film.  It plays a slow burn game, as you don’t really see a zombie or get any big idea of how they act in an attack for a long time in this film.  Something that may sound boring to impatient horror hounds on paper, but when watching the film, you’d never know it.  Bo Mikkelson really does deliver in the script and with the performances of his actors, such a decent amount of character building, relations and mystery.  While you’ll recognize that the film isn’t showing you anything for the longest time, it neither feels like it nor is a bother.

Its not just suspense scenes over and over with little to no delivery at the end.  Things that work here to entertain are more than that.  There are familial relations that actually earn their moments and are built, genuinely being worthwhile.  There is also a budding young romance that actually worked (for me at least).  This all helps to add to the slow burn, slow reveal scenes in the film.  Good zombie films have good human characters and focus more on the human conflict.  While this one is more about people working together for a common goal and actually trying to cooperate, there are still conflicts within and some outside sources.

Zombie action may not be a priority of What We Become, but it certainly isn’t an afterthought.  There are some off-camera or blood splattering onto a surface from somewhere else in a room moments aplenty.  But, this film really does get into some good gore indulgence before the film ends.  It also has some good chasing and intense action moments featuring hordes.  We also get a simplistic, yet perfectly done look for the zombies that feels natural and also calls back a hair to some films of zombie past in the make-up and the way a couple are shot.

What We Become might not be for all.  Even if you’re not one to enjoy slow burn, you should still try it out.  Its not a great movie by any means, but its pretty solid and entertaining.  In a world full of cheap zombie horror films, this is one of the better and more interesting ones to come around.  This isn’t a rave for the film, but definitely a nudge to check it out if you have the means and an opportunity to.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail:  What We see on this Blu-ray is a very good, above average picture.  While for the most part crisp and clear, there are some moments that feel a bit smooth.  Details are quite abundant, especially when it comes to being able to take a look at the gore and the details of the dripping blood.  This features a more minimal look on zombies, but you can surely make out their make-up and appearance.  Overall you get a sharp, clean and crisp image with plenty of detail.

Depth:  The film features some decent, if not expectedly average dimensional work.  Characters move smoothly and freely throughout this adventure. Backgrounds feature some good detail and work good with spacing and work in conjunction with the foreground well.  Its nothing that’s gonna wow anyone, but it certainly acts as it should and nothing more.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and inky.  Taking on a slightly gray appearance, they manage to provide some good shading and things get dark but still feel a tad bright due to the tint they take on.  Disappearing detail in darkness is minimal as you can still get some good hair follicles, patterns and textures in darker, more shadowy scenes.  No crushing was witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are a bit washed out for the most part in this.  Greens look rather good in some earlier outdoor shots.  Colors do look very solid and hold up.  Red is indeed a standout and holds a tad taller than the others.  Blue is also decent in its strength compared to some others.

Flesh Tones:  The film has a bit of a cold and washed out look to it that holds from the beginning through the end of the feature.  Details are quite abundant (though can appear smooth in some medium and further shots), as you get stubble, make-up, wrinkles, dimples and good looks at the zombie make-up texture and intricacies.  Blood spatter on faces, or dried blood looks good too.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): Danish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Danish 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dynamics: What We listen to is a very solid 5.1 track.  The 2.0 does more than the trick here, but the 5.1 still makes for a top experience.  Sound effects and foley work are shining stars in this mix.  Whether it be the crunching of leaves at the feet of our characters or the chewing and spatter of guts at the teeth of the zombies, this mix catalogs every nuance.  The score also is woven up and down with good precision, building and hitting effectively in moments of big impact.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Your subwoofer gets some decent work in on this mix.  Gunfire, crashing, some objects breaking and a car crash highlight some of the thumping done effectively.  There are also strikes in the score that are used to some effectiveness that the LFE brings to the table.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Rear speakers are used primarily in the effectiveness of providing ambiance to the environments in the film.  A lot of this film is brought in the quiet, but there are some creeks and cracks that happen as well as some scoring that pipes through.  During a big attack, you can make out some zombie growls in them too.  The front speakers, where the most eventful stuff happens (duh), accurately follows characters and action across the screen as well as capturing distance with good volume settings.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and has clarity throughout all scenes of any given intensity.  Even when the zombie attacking scales upward, you can still make out the character’s voices and intended loudness correctly.

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Extras 

What We Become is a combo pack including a DVD copy of the film.

Trailer (HD, 1:51) 

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Summary 

What We Become is a solid entry in the overcrowded world of zombie horror.  Whether it was a budgetary concern in writing or the actual mission of the project, its desire to make a more character based and suspense driven film focusing on the people really does succeed.  This Blu-ray succeeds in giving a terrific presentation of the film, but really leaves you unfulfilled when it comes to the extras department.  While its a good film, you still may want to find it as a rental before jumping right in to purchase it.  Just always safe to be cautious, considering this release offers nothing more than just the film.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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