Two survivors in the zombie apocalypse try to keep themselves alive as long as possible by hiding on the roof of a mechanical shop. One of the survivors, Ellen, worked in the shop below and was the first to find this safe spot who is considering suicide. But she helps a fellow survivor, Cillian, to get up on the roof and she has other things to worry about.
Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi is a prolific short film filmmaker that I've been following for some time. I always look forward to a filmmaker like this going into the feature format, but for a lot of filmmakers it's a risk as they've gotten so into how to make a short film. I never had the pleasure of watching "Snow Angel", his first feature, but I knew I couldn't pass up on "Canswer", simply going by one thing: I wanted to see how Arcilesi tackles the zombie genre.
"Canswer" goes back to one of my favorite aspects of the zombie genre - the survival. No other movie did it as well as "Night of the Living Dead" (some will argue that "Dawn of the Dead" did it better, and that's fine), where the dynamic between characters is the key. "Canswer" follows the formula of putting characters into one place and seeing how they get along. In this one it's Ellen and Cillian stuck on the roof of Ellen's mechanical shop while stupid zombies roam the streets around it. Ellen's been stuck up there for a while and is getting to the end of the line, preparing to take the last step off of the edge, when Cillian arrives and she helps him up. Cillian sure is company, but they're two different personalities trying to survive day after day on a roof.
The writer/director brings the best of his short films into "Canwer", a movie where the back stories of our duo is everything. It is a zombie movie but if you watch this for gory zombie action then you're in the wrong place. It's not a movie for everyone and certainly not a popcorn flick. It's a very slow movie and it does suffer a bit. Structurally it does feel like a short film and a dialogue heavy one at that, so a perfect feature it isn't. I think it's good that Arcilesi is making more features as that's the only practice to truly move away from the cursed structure of a short film. But "Canswer" makes it up for always developing the characters further and changing the situation just enough for it to have us curious where it'll go. The movie eventually gets its teeth into some very interesting subjects.
One other issue with "Canswer" would be the dubbing and sound. Shooting a movie on a roof isn't the best thing for dialogue, as it'll require some fixing (the best approach would be dubbing). There are several parts of the movie where you can clearly tell it's dubbed, which.. you know.. is the last thing you want when dubbing. It doesn't help that the sound was rather low, often being on the same level as the zombie groans in the background. It made it hard to follow every word. This doesn't ruin the movie, I got used to the dubbing. The issue was having to adjust the volume to make sure I didn't ruin my speakers but still heard what they said.
Despite a few issues with "Canswer", I think it's a great spin on the zombie genre. We need movies like "Canswer" and "Stalled" that are taking a step back and looking what made the classics great without mimicking them. "Canswer" steps away from the usual horrors of a zombie movie and decides to put the characters entirely in focus - but not without reminding us of the horrors below. As I said before, some people won't like it. That's not a problem, it just shows the difference between "Canswer" and your typical zombie movie.