Canswer (2014) – By Philip Smolen

Perched on a lonely rooftop of an abandoned auto repair factory, car mechanic Ellen (Sarah Cunningham) is prepared to jump off and surrender herself to the hordes of infected zombies below her. Suddenly, she hears a cry for help and sees another fellow human named Cillian (Robert Nolan) struggling to evade the frenzied mass. Ellen sends down a ladder and Cillian is able to climb up to her. Grateful to finally be with another human, Cillian bombards Ellen with questions. But once he calms down, he looks around the roof top and realizes that they’re both trapped. There’s no way into the building to search for supplies and if they use the ladder to get down, they’ll have to face the swarm of infecteds below. They have no food, no water, no shelter and nothing but time. So over the course of several days, Cillian and Ellen tell each other their life stories. And then things begin to get weird…

“Canswer” is a new film from Canadian filmmaker Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi and it’s a bizarre example of the zombie film. Going against the grain of most other movies of this type, Arcilesi eschews the usual scenes found in a zombie movie (there are no gruesome zombie attacks and no scenes of a loved one turning into a zombie). Instead, he concentrates on the developing relationship between Cillian and Ellen. They both know that even though they are safe from attack, death is their only real future, so they start to tell each everything about themselves – absolutely everything, including just how the zombie pandemic may have started and just what is that weird green fluid on the roof.

These plot points tie into a couple of really neat twists that send the film into a totally weird and trippy sci-fi direction. It’s heady and it’s wild and you won’t find another zombie flick this year that has this much originality.

Unfortunately, the film’s problem is that it’s too static. Until those wild and wacky left turns, the film basically consists of Cillian and Ellen talking to each other. After almost an hour of this, a lot of the film’s energy is depleted and while it regains some of its momentum for the last twenty minutes, this doesn’t compensate for its initial slowness.

Both Robert Nolan and Sarah Cunningham are excellent. They convincingly portray the desperateness that Cillian and Ellen are feeling, and it’s amazing to watch how they transform as the movie unfolds.

Arcilesi adds in some strikingly beautiful compositions that really make it seem like the couple is alone in the world, and there are some wonderful visual effects in the last third of the movie that truly make you gasp.

So if you’re tired of all those typical zombie movies and wish that the genre would take a giant leap in another direction, then check out “Canswer.” While it loses some of its vigor during a slow first hour, it does offer some real distinctive cinematic twists. It’s a most unusual zombie flick.

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