The strangely titled The End? combines a single location survival thriller with a zombie film, as successful money man Claudio’s (Alessandro Roja) elevator experiences a technical failure just as a zombie outbreak hits Rome. Before the maintenance crew manages to make it to him, the infected have begun to swarm his office building. So it’s a blessing in disguise that a loose mechanism in the elevator shaft prevents him from wrestling the doors all the way open. He’s left with a small opening to the 7th floor, but at least he’s safe from his rabid co-workers.
It’s a neat idea to combine the two subgenres, but the film doesn’t really succeed at being either. The fact that director Daniele Misischia‘s camera leaves the confines of the elevator on a number of occasions lessons the claustrophobic impact of the increasingly bloody metal box. Films like Buried or, on a larger scale, Joe Lynch’s Everly, benefit from directors setting themselves the technical challenge of not leaving the diegetic enclosed space, but each cutaway to the corridor breaks the mounting tension. It’s a shame because Misischia and cinematographer Angelo Sorrentino are actually quite good at finding interesting camera angles in the elevator.
Then, on the zombie side, the film lacks any real invention or memorable moments. The structure is repetitive: Claudio’s trapped, he tries to escape, fails, one of the uninfected passes by, they’re attacked, the zombies are either distracted or killed, Claudio’s still trapped; ad nauseam. This results in a film that feels much longer than it is.
The tone is kept quite straight-faced throughout, excluding Roja‘s strangely comical screaming, but the title (admittedly altered from the literal Italian translation “In One Day the End”) hints at a layer of meta horror comedy that doesn’t come across in the finished picture. Titling is such a delicate art form and, intriguing though it may be, The End? simply does not match the movie. Misischia‘s film never makes that vital first grab at the audience to take them by the scruff of the neck and drag them into this doubly terrifying situation.