There’s a scene early in “After the Apocalypse” when the character played by Yasuaki Nakajima, who’s also pic’s writer, producer, director and editor, discreetly masturbates. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to read the scene as symbolic of his artistic efforts on the picture itself. A textbook example of a “festival film” with zilch commercial potential, no-budget indie takes a numbingly pretentious approach to a moldy premise — a handful of strangers interacting amid rubble in wake of WWIII.
Carolyn Macartney’s effectively stark B&W lensing is sole selling point of “Apocalypse,” which plods through a desultory storyline about characters who cross paths in a rubble-strewn cityscape. For unexplained reasons, survivors are unable to speak. But they’re quite capable of expressing themselves nonverbally, especially when nominal protagonist (Nakajima) tries to free beautiful artist (Jacqueline Bowman) from the clutches of an abusive lover (Zorikh Lequidre). An itinerant juggler (Moises Morale) and a goggled eccentric (Oscar Lowe) also figure into drama, which is hard to swallow even before Nakajima arbitrarily adds cannibalism to the mix. Buffs may be intrigued by pic’s narrative similarities to Arch Oboler’s “Five,” an atmospheric 1951 melodrama that also included a pregnant woman among its quintet of WWIII survivors.