×

Film Review: ‘Here Alone’

A woman is "Here Alone" in the upstate New York woods after a viral infection wipes out most of humanity.

With:
Lucy Walters, Gina Piersanti, Adam David Thompson, Shane West, Ryken A. Whitfield. (English, French dialogue)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4814760/

You can generally tell how seriously a zombie movie takes itself by how much it uses the Z word — and you know “Here Alone” takes itself very seriously indeed, because that word is never mentioned at all. A surprisingly sober entry in the Tribeca film fest’s midnight section, and even more surprising winner of its narrative feature audience award, this stripped-down survivalist drama about a woman carrying on after a virus has killed and/or zombified most of humanity is probably too low on conventional action to satisfy mainstream horror fans. But critical support could propel it into niche theatrical release, with specialized home-format sales more of a given.

At the outset, Ann (Lucy Walters) is conspicuously alone, living in a well-camouflaged campsite in an upstate New York forest. But flashbacks soon show her an unknown amount of time earlier, fleeing her home with husband Jason (Shane West) and their infant daughter as gunshots fire in the distance and the radio reports a deadly, widespread viral infection. It takes David Ebeltoft’s screenplay quite a while to reveal just what happened to Ann’s loved ones. But there are no prizes for guessing she’s now the family’s sole survivor.

Having grown up in these woods, where Jason trained her in wilderness survival basics, the family apparently had enough warning about the crisis to prepare as well as could be managed, with camping supplies, some long-shelf-life food and a gun packed into the car that now sits idle next to her tent. Nonetheless, Ann must hazard occasional runs to nearby houses, looking for canned goods. Though we don’t actually see a zombie until more than an hour in, we do hear them screeching in the distance — and know they’re agitated by the smell of blood, which Ann uses to waylay them while she’s busy raiding a no longer inhabited farmhouse for supplies.

Popular on Variety

After one such trek she hears people — living people — and cautiously approaches teenage Olivia (Gina Piersanti), found hobbling along a country road supporting head-wounded stepfather Chris (Adam David Thompson). Having determined neither are infected, Ann takes them in, letting Chris recoup. The newcomers don’t seem entirely trustworthy, casting a possibly covetous eye toward their benefactress’ survival-odds-heightening possessions. The group plans to go north (Ann’s hand-cranked shortwave radio supports hopes that some normal life may remain in Quebec), and her automobile sure would come in handy. Yet the conflict that eventually, fatefully arises between these three is different in nature, and has more to do with timeless human emotions of jealousy and desire. (Hint: Mixing volatile teenage emotions with rampaging-zombie risk can be hazardous to everyone’s health.)

Though there’s not a whole lot of plot here, Ebeltoft makes a virtue of writing economy, and director Rod Blackhurt (a “Funny or Die” regular making his narrative feature debut) maintains considerable interest as well as a consistent low hum of tension. The performers are all credible as ordinary, fallible folk who’ve managed to survive a plague (so far) through sheer luck as much as anything; no one here is larger-than-life.

Adam McDaid’s handsome widescreen photography of the almost entirely outdoor locations and Eric D. Johnson’s edgy, melancholy score highlight a sharp overall assembly.

Film Review: 'Here Alone'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, April 25, 2016. (In Tribeca Film Festival — Midnight.) Running time: 97 MIN.

Production: A Lola's Prods. presentation of a Gentile Entertainment Group, Preferred Content production, in association with Young Gunner Films, Elevated Train, Unparalleled Prods., Easy Open Prods. (International sales: Preferred Content, Los Angeles.) Produced by Noah Lang, David Ebeltoft, Rod Blackhurst, Arun Kumar, Josh Murphy. Executive producers, Kevin Iwashina, Marc Bortz, Paul Ebeltoft, Gail Ebeltoft, Anthony Gentile, John Gentile, Sinan Germirli, Leigh Jones, Ian Keiser, Paul Pathikal, Bradley J. Ross, Brendan Walsh, Eric Schultz. Co-producers, Trevor Eiler, Jon Lullo, Doug Zagha.

Crew: Directed by Rod Blackhurst. Screenplay, David Ebeltoft. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Adam McDaid; editors, Blackhurst, Simon Dixgaard; music, Eric D. Johnson; production designer, Rob Ebeltoft; costume designer, Brooke Bennett; makeup designer, Lisa Forst; sound, Nick Bohun; sound supervisor/designer/re-recording mixer, Jamey Scott; assistant director, Trevor Eiler.

With: Lucy Walters, Gina Piersanti, Adam David Thompson, Shane West, Ryken A. Whitfield. (English, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Delete History

    'Delete History': Film Review

    If you’ve ever felt frustrated when a website asks you to select photos of traffic lights in order to prove that you’re not a robot, or struggled for a way to keep all your internet passwords straight, then digital-age satire “Delete History” was made with you in mind. Like the spam folder on your Google [...]

  • Whiplash

    Cutting Edge Group Acquires Soundtrack Label Lakeshore Records (EXCLUSIVE)

    Cutting Edge Group, a leading music financier and services provider for film, TV and advertising, has acquired Lakeshore Records, a top independent soundtrack label. Their partnership will provide Cutting Edge with an in-house label, while Lakeshore will continue to operate as an independent, doing albums for such high-profile projects as “Marriage Story,” “Moonlight,” “Stranger Things” [...]

  • Sakamoto

    Ryuichi Sakamoto to be Honored by Locarno Festival

    Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who has worked with David Bowie in various guises and scored movies by greats such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Pedro Almodovar, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, will be honored by the Locarno Film Festival. Sakamoto, an electronic music pioneer whose Yellow Magic Orchestra, formed in 1978, anticipated both techno and rap music debuted [...]

  • The Reason I Jump

    Picturehouse Takes U.K. Rights to Jerry Rothwell's 'The Reason I Jump'

    Picturehouse Entertainment has picked up U.K. distribution rights for the Sundance prize-winning documentary “The Reason I Jump” from MetFilm Sales. Picturehouse’s Clare Binns and Paul Ridd and MetFilm’s Vesna Cudic negotiated the deal following the film’s world premiere at last month’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award. Directed by [...]

  • Jason Segel

    Jason Segel on his AMC Series 'Dispatches' and Working Outside Studio Model

    “How I Met Your Mother” and “Sex Tape” actor Jason Segel has said it was a “magical midlife crisis” that inspired his new AMC series “Dispatches From Elsewhere,” in which the actor was able to take creative control and work outside of studio constraints. Segel, who was speaking Monday as part of a keynote address [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone Variety Cover story

    Sylvester Stallone's 'Little America' Is Pre-Sales Hit for AGC International

    “Little America,” an upcoming Sylvester Stallone-starring sci-fi-action thriller, has proven to be a strong attraction for sales powerhouse AGC International. With Rowan Athale writing and directing, the project was introduced earlier this week at the Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market. Athale (“Wasteland,” “Outside the Wire,” “Way Down”) was in Berlin and met with distributors. [...]

  • Aum group logo

    'Fruitvale Station' Producer Co-Creates Multicultural Film Fund AUM Group

    “Fruitvale Station” producer Nina Bongiovi is teaming up with prominent figures in the film and tech industries to launch AUM Group, a fund dedicated to acquiring and developing IP and financing multicultural movies.  Among AUM’s (pronounced “om”) other co-founders are Gold House chairman Bing Chen, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin and Bongiovi’s Significant Productions partner Michael [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content