Being a new mom has had it’s toll on my brain. I’ve forgotten to eat. I’ve put the milk carton in the oven. I’ve gone days without showering or changing into socially acceptable attire. Being alone with an almost 4 month old baby all day makes your mind do/think weird things. Stir-craziness is very real. Isolation can ravage the senses. One the up side, this also means I have “a lot of time” (I know, I laughed as I typed that, too) to watch, or at least play films in the background. As a horror buff, I was excited about one film’s description in particular from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival Midnight Section, even if the plot sounded similar to ones that have cone before it. Like The Walking Dead, Rod Blackhurst‘s Tribeca World premiere HERE ALONE, is not about “zombies” but more about the people left behind.
After a terrible virus ravages human civilization, Ann finds herself living alone in a forest, foraging for supplies, and accompanied only by a radio that broadcasts a single transmission in French. Few animals even remain; the only survivors seem to be the roving hordes of infected creatures with a taste for human flesh. One fateful day, Ann crosses paths with two more survivors, Chris and Olivia. But after surviving on her own for so long, she struggles to relate to them and and their desire to settle down and start a new community.
Almost entirely shot in the woods, our lead character Ann has only her vehicle and two small camps on a lake. Screenwriter David Ebeltoft’s immensely effective script, utilizes intermittent flashbacks to show us how Ann came to be on her own. Once traveling with her husband and infant daughter, the audience must allow themselves to be with Ann in the present in order to feel emotionally connected. She is smart and resilient. She has learned that practicality is the only way to survive. Her newly gained skills sometimes fumble, adding to the realism factor. The minute she allows her emotions to control her path, things are bound to go awry. When Ann stumbles upon Chris and his step-daughter Olivia, her motherly instinct may be her undoing. Two mindsets are at play; Stay put or keep moving. Which would you choose? Blackhurst’s use of nudity is never without purpose. There is no glamour factor here, which is much appreciated in the genre in general. Lucy Walters‘ lead performance is breathtaking. It’s not until the very end that we discover what happened to Ann’s daughter. That particular scene, which we know from the very beginning we’ve been building up to, is one of the most gut-wrenching I’ve seen on film. Maybe it’s the new Mommy hormones, maybe it’s Ebeltoft specifically crafted script, or maybe it’s the perfect storm of the two. I don’t think I have ever wept while watching a horror film until now. In a “what would you do?” scenario from hell, HERE ALONE tears your heart out and challenges how you think you’d react in a doomsday situation. When you’re down to your last bullet, it’s life or death.
HERE ALONE is one to catch. It may not necessarily be a new idea, but it is told from a fresh perspective. (Mothers be warned.)