Director: Michael Matthews
Writers: Brian Duffield, Matthew Robinson
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker, Ariana Greenblatt
Cinematographer: Lachlan Milne
Editors: Debbie Berman, Nancy Richardson
Streaming on: Netflix
Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) is an apocalypse survivor who, by the requirements of any mainstream Hollywood catastrophe film, shouldn’t nonetheless be alive. Holed up in a bunker with a bunch of fiercely courageous weapons-wielding survivalists, his most helpful high quality is his potential to make a tasty minestrone soup. Too skittish to combat and woefully inept when he does strive, the lovelorn Joel spends his days composing letters to his long-distance girlfriend, Aimee (Jessica Henwick), and attempting to get in contact together with her over a makeshift radio.
In one other movie, his cowardice would’ve been a goal of ridicule, however not right here. The group loves him, and regardless of the pressures of dwindling provides and the specter of assaults, are splendidly variety and accommodating. Joel’s final act of bravery, pre-apocalypse, was to inform his Aimee that he beloved her for the primary time. When he decides to depart his bunker and trek to hers, a week-long journey, the group solely expresses concern for his security, not mockery. It’s a refreshingly uncynical tone for a film, a utopian sense of camaraderie set in a dystopian time, with a hero as removed from heroic as they arrive.
The monsters which have ravaged 95% of the Earth’s inhabitants are on a regular basis creepy crawlies which have mutated to massive sizes, a wickedly imaginative concept for a world-ending risk. They’re additionally nice at inducing each fright and disgust — the opening scenes depict an enormous cockroach biting the top off a soldier, a sequence I don’t suppose I may’ve stomached had it been live-action as a substitute of animation. And should you suppose worms aren’t that unhealthy, think about being swarmed by a dozen the dimensions of your arm. These creature assaults are tense, expertly staged and evoke a deep sense of dread. The movie’s Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects is properly deserved.
The horrors of the apocalypse include an perception into private horrors. When Joel learns a fellow trekker’s son has been killed, he apologises for the loss. “No need to be sorry,” the person replies. “We all have stories like that.” Director Michael Matthrews balances out the disappointment with a light-weight, humorous contact. The creatures get darkly comedian names like Tree Flamer, Herd Stomper, Limb Snapper and Limb Crusher. Visually, the movie is in contrast to any apocalyptic narrative, the Earth wanting the greenest it’s ever been.
Joel spends a lot of his journey in one-sided dialog, both in voiceover addressed to his girlfriend, or to a canine he meets alongside the best way. That the movie nonetheless doesn’t flag is testomony to O’Brien’s goofy allure and immense likeability. Still inhabiting the nervy power of his Teen Wolf days, he conveys Joel’s loneliness and want for human connection beneath an affable exterior. By the top, the movie additionally doubles up as a shifting coming-of-age story for him. Joel is confronted by not solely monsters, but additionally questions concerning the altering nature of affection and whether or not it actually does endure in attempting instances.
While the climactic scenes lean nearer to the standard motion film template, and a few sequences really feel like they had been pulled proper out of Zombieland (2009), the general consequence continues to be one of many freshest takes on the ‘end of the world’ journey shortly, a marvel given the instances we’re residing in.