‘Handling the Undead’ Review – Emotional Zombie Horror Movie Unique

The Big Picture

  • Handling the Undead
    explores the idea of the living becoming comforted by the return of their deceased loved ones.
  • The film requires a slow, quiet method to the zombie genre, focusing on loss, suffering, and undying appreciate.
  • While the film attempts to supply anything new, it in the end falls quick of becoming a groundbreaking addition to the genre.

This assessment was initially element of our coverage of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

Zombies get a terrible rap. Beyond all the flesh-consuming and attempts to turn the living into the undead, the reality of the matter is these shuffling masses had been as soon as loved. We generally believe of zombies in terms of losing loved ones, when on the other side of that coin, it is an chance for a second possibility with the ones we appreciate. At least, that is the idea behind Handling the Undead, directed and co-written by Thea Hvistendahl, alongside co-writer John Ajvide Lindqvist of Let the Right One In fame. Both Hvistendahl and Lindqvist attempt to boil the zombie film down to its core, but what’s left there are ideas that we’ve observed in numerous zombie films prior to.

Handling the Undead

On a hot summer season day in Oslo, the dead mysteriously awaken, and 3 households are thrown into chaos when their deceased loved ones come back to them. Who are they, and what do they want?

Release Date
February 9, 2024

Thea Hvistendahl

Renate Reinsve , Anders Danielsen Lie , Bahar Pars , Bjørn Sundquist

97 minutes

What Is ‘Handling the Undead’ About?

Based on Lindqvist’s novel of the identical name, Handling the Undead requires location in Oslo, exactly where an unexplained higher-pitched sound has been let out across the city, and quickly just after, the not too long ago deceased have come back to life. For Anna (Renate Reinsve), the current death of her son has provided her tiny point to reside. When her father, Mahler (Bjørn Sundquist), goes to go to his grandson’s grave, he digs the youngster out and finds him barely moving but breathing. Similarly, just after a automobile accident leaves the wife of David (Anders Danielsen Lie) pronounced dead in the hospital, she is quickly found to be alive as soon as far more, without the need of explanation.

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This phenomenon is taking place about the city, and however, rather of worry, these men and women are glad to discover these they’ve not too long ago lost returned—a sorrow averted. As we watch the living comforted by the return of the dead, Handling the Undead asks whether or not or not it is greater to have a shell of a individual we appreciate for our personal comfort, or let them rest in peace rather?

Handling the Undead is a slow-moving, quiet take on the zombie film, far more about the living dealing with handling the repercussions of this return than about consuming brains or killing as numerous of the walking dead as achievable. In numerous techniques, Handling the Undead is pretty equivalent to the superb French series Les Revenants, which also followed a tiny town as the dead came back to life, with hints of a sinister undertone. With a series that lasted for two seasons, the story could delve into this return and how it impacted this town. With Handling the Undead, there is not sufficient time as as soon as the idea tends to make itself recognized, it is time for the film to commence wrapping up.

‘Handling the Undead’ Isn’t as Groundbreaking as It Thinks

Bahar Pars in Handling the Undead
Image by means of NEON

By pulling back on what we know a “zombie” story to be, tearing this down to its barest essence, Handling the Undead is not saying something especially revelatory. Once once more, it creates a zombie story that is about loss, suffering, and undying appreciate. This is a shame, taking into consideration how Lindqvist recontextualized the vampire genre with Let the Right One In—maybe it is just mainly because we’ve had so numerous distinctive iterations on the zombie story which keeps Handling the Undead from feeling like an fascinating step for the genre. That’s not to say that Hvistendahl and Lindqvist’s screenplay is bad—on the contrary—but it does not appear to recognize we’ve observed stories like this in the current previous currently.

In addition to feeling pretty equivalent to Les Revenant, Lindqvist and Hvistendahl’s screenplay cannot support but remind of Lindqvist’s other operate and how these other films had been capable to sustain a level of underlying dread, but with a narrative that nevertheless went additional than what Handling the Undead is undertaking. Let the Right One In and Matt ReevesLet Me In each managed to set that tone, but inform a captivating story that played with the conventions of vampire tales. Similarly, Border, the Oscar-nominated film by Ali Abbasi that Lindqvist co-wrote, also mixes the fantastical with a weird, however touching private story. But Handling the Undead sort of appears content material to just set the tone and then let that be the point, as we glimpse into the lives of these several households. We’re acquiring hints of far more fascinating possibilities and stories to stick to by means of on, but it is also scattered to make something stick for also extended.

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Hvistendahl directs these returns virtually as a series of vignettes for this town, not fairly providing any of these segments sufficient time to be wholly productive. For instance, with Reinsve’s Anna, we only get bits and pieces of her story, as we place with each other that she’s not too long ago lost her son, her father is watching more than her, and she’s suicidal mainly because of this loss. There’s prospective there, and the narrative about father and daughter coming to terms with this shocking revelation does shift how we count on these loved ones members to act fairly nicely. But as a tiny element of a a lot bigger story, there’s not sufficient time to discover this family’s dynamics. The identical is correct of Lie’s David and his loved ones, in which we get glimpses of David’s life and the lives of his youngsters, but there’s just not sufficient time to do a lot of any of these characters justice, outdoors of their current tragedy.

‘Handling the Undead’ Is a Movie in Search of Life

Handling the Undead_Credit Morten Brun
Image via Morten Brun

Handling the Undead acts as far more of a mood piece than a focused narrative, with Hvistendahl directing this idea with the slow, meandering pace of, effectively, a zombie. The cinematography by Celine Engebrigsten spotlights the dark, cold universe of discomfort that these humans are brought back into, however their reappearance does not bring the light or warmth that they as soon as did. This is very best shown by means of the partnership of Eva and David, as we get to invest some time with this couple prior to the unfortunate passing of Eva. There’s joy, assistance, and appreciate that radiates amongst these two, and as soon as Eva returns from the dead, all of that comfort the other offers is gone, a husk of the individual that as soon as was inside. This story gets into the notion of moving on greater than any other narrative right here, but once more, there’s not sufficient time right here to completely discover this inside the stories of the other folks.

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But even although Handling the Undead does not have the time to delve sufficient into its collection of stories, the person components of the film are nevertheless strong on their personal. Hvistendahl captures a depressed, mournful mood that feels each lethargic and overwhelming, only punctuated by moments of surprising worry. The cinematography by Engebringsten also matches this ambiance, as the fog looms more than this town like the memories of these not too long ago passed. And in spite of them not acquiring practically the screen time they deserve, the complete cast, specifically Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie, are undertaking their very best with the tiny time they have. The components of a decent story are all through Handling the Undead, it just does not come with each other in a way that is totally productive.

For some, Handling the Undead could possibly appear like a daring take on the zombie story, one particular that plays this notion in a a lot far more somber tone that is far more about emotional resonance than blood and guts. Yet in the context of the genre, Handling the Undead is not however a lot of something new. It’s a deliberately-paced drama with some decent performances and a gorgeously dark aesthetic, but lacks the time or work to give these stories what they need to have. It’s an admirable try to attempt anything new in the genre, but it is currently been performed prior to.

Handling the Undead Sundance Film Festival 2024 Swedish Poster-1


Handling the Undead

Handling the Undead attempts to give a new viewpoint on the zombie film, but this slow-moving drama is not practically as groundbreaking as it thinks.


  • A quiet, deliberate zombie film that focuses on the emotional aspect of the living and dead is a good adjust of pace.
  • The performances by Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie bring this undead story to life.

  • The script is not as special of a take on the zombie film as it thinks it is.
  • There just is not sufficient time to do these several storylines justice.

Handling the Undead is now readily available to stream on VOD in the U.S.


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