A mysterious virus has decimated the world population, turning the dead into zombies which feast on the flesh on the living. With cities now under martial law, the army takes to the street - a fast moving killing machine, hunting zombies and exterminating any humans they suspect are infected. A small band of immune children, united by a common recurring dream and led by 9 year old Camille, set out for the seashore, fleeing the un-dead and the blood crazed soldiers, carrying mankind's last hope. Can they make it to safety? Set in a dystopian world reminiscent of 28 Weeks Later and Children of Men, Descendents is the long awaited zombie film from Chile's terror-maestro Jorge Olguin (Angel Negro, Eternal Blood).
This post-apocalyptic Chilean film begins in an interesting way. Instead of showing the decimation of the world as we know it into a zombie-strewn, blasted wasteland, the terrible events are told through the narration and drawings of a child; the end of the world seen through a child’s eyes. Except this child (Camille, played by Camille Lynch), and a handful of others, have been born with gill-like marks on their necks, making them immune from zombie bites and the sickness that accompanies them.
When the film proper begins, it becomes apparent that this opening narration isn’t an introduction to the story being told - it IS the story. What follows is a series of images, relentlessly punctuated by flashbacks (often the same flashbacks, repeated), of a group of children – each one displaying no acting ability whatsoever – either playing happily on swings, being chased by the living dead (from whom they have nothing to fear because of their ‘gills’), or chased by soldiers eager to learn more about their immunity. And that is it. Story-wise, nothing happens until the end. Worst of all, the viewer is not given any inclination to care.
Visually, things are more interesting. A lot of the colour has been bled from the images, and we are treated to a kind of sepia world, with only rolling contaminated orange skies and the bright redness of blood to enliven the vistas. The zombie transformations are effective, but undermined each time by the juveniles’ utter lack of reaction to them – they are immune, so why should they worry?
The children reach the ocean, and the swelling of triumphant music tells us this is a good thing, even when a giant digital octopus emerges and destroys a helicopter full of ever-present soldiers. The youngsters’ transformation is complete, it seems, as Camille turns to the camera and reveals fully matured gills and webbed hands.