- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Canswer

Also known as:

Year: 2014

Genre: Independent / Drama / Horror

Language: English

Runtime: 82 min

Director: Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi

Writer: Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi


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.

Our thoughts:
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.

Positive things:
- All about the characters.
- Though often a simple movie, it has some beautiful shots.
- Twists and turns to keep you guessing.
- Solid actors. I love Robert Nolan but Sarah Cunningham really stood out in this one.

Negative things:
- Some of the sound work.
- Suffers a tiny bit from feeling like it should have been a lot shorter.

Gore: 0.5/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 0/5

We got this movie from:

It can be bought from:

Reviewed by:


Like us on Facebook

Best of 2017
"City of Rott: Streets of Rott" Press Release
Best of 2016
Best of 2015
Underrated Horror Movies That Aren't Underrated: A Halloween List
Howling: Halloween 2015
Amityville: Halloween 2015
A Stephen King Halloween for 2015
"Tales of the Dim" Press Release
Best of 2014
Full Moon Favorites
A '90s Halloween
Best of 2013
A Profane Preview
A Netflix Halloween for 2013
"German Angst" on Kickstarter
The Sexploitation/Erotica List
Ronny's Arthouse Films List #2
Best of 2012
Worst of 2012

Special Feature Archives

1. Okja
2. Lucky
3. 68 Kill
4. Prevenge
5. Shin Godzilla
6. Good Manners
7. Love and Other Cults
8. Get Out
9. It Comes At Night
10. November
Taken from Best of 2017

- Mondo Vision
- Second Run DVD