Well I was expecting a French film called Two of Us (aka Deux), about two ageing lesbians who have spent decades in the closet. Instead I got this Two of Us (aka Dead Earth) about two young lesbians fighting off a zombie holocaust.
Not quite the same thing, the lesbian aspect to one side. What this Two of Us reminded me of very early on was a great and barely known zombie film called The Battery. The Battery’s USP is the portrait it paints of two guys – former baseball team-mates – who have spent so long in each other’s company, and fighting the zombie holocaust, that they’re kind of sick of the sight of each other. It’s also a neat portrait of the zombie apocalypse some years (perhaps as many as 15) in.
Two of Us takes a similar approach – two young women who have clearly got used to the post-apocalyptic world, easy in each other’s company but bored with it all. “Another day in paradise,” they say to each other in a ritualistic deadpan every day. And it does look pretty good, because these two women are holed up in a Thai holiday hotel, with a still functioning pool, a generator for electricity, supplies of food. They sunbathe, they read books, they swim, and when they need to stray off the beaten track they arm themselves with a machete or baseball bat and head out, confident yet wary – they’ve been doing this for some time.
Thai writer/director Wych Kaosayananda is perhaps best known for cheap and cheerful action fare like Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever but is trying something tonally different in the first two thirds of this film. It’s languid, lush, laid-back even, with a soundtrack of chill-out synths that bubble away, now and again threatening to well up into something but never quite making it. The lighting is flat, sombre, the young women’s affectless voices so far back in the sound mix they can barely be heard.
What’s going on isn’t entirely apparent, though their machete/baseball bat excursion give us a hint that something’s off, as does the look the two exchange when the generator sputters and they have to refuel it. As for the reception they give two non-zombie guys who arrive out of nowhere – no spoilers.
And then the zombies themselves turn up and things become much more formulaic. If you like a good zombie wipeout movie, this is where your interest starts. It’s more or less where mine ended, though I was gratified to see zombies who run – and as fast they possibly can – rather than just shuffle along. These undead are very, very keen on human flesh.
Any lore? Well the zombies don’t appear to be very good in the water… er… that’s about it.
A partner movie to Kaosayananda’s The Driver, apparently (I haven’t seen it), it’s obviously been made for next to no budget. One deserted hotel, out of season, five speaking roles, a bunch of extras to play the zombies – there’s not an awful lot to co-ordinate.
Kaosayananda handles the action well, with one particular sequence of massive zombie killing a particular standout because the zombies are all shot in silhouette, which looks good, throws our attention fully on the main actors and also allows the director to re-use “dead” zombies again on a night-of-the-dying-dead carousel.
The Battery was an ingenious film with an ingenious ending. This is an ingenious film with a conventional fight-and-flight ending. I liked it. It obviously helps that both Milena Gorum and Alice Tantayanon are good looking, and when the languid hanging around in their bikini bit stops and it’s time to get into commando gear and get going with the zombie-slaying, they rise to that too.
Now for the other Two of Us…
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© Steve Morrissey 2020