From 28 Days Later, to World War Z, to The Walking Dead, zombies have become the go-to monster for the apocalypse. They’re an easy and powerful symbol for social commentary, and they can be worked into virtually every disaster. In Here Alone, it’s a mysterious virus that ravages the country. It’s not a particularly original disaster, but it’s also entirely not the point of what is really a story of sacrifice and survival.
Lucy Walters (Shame) stars as Ann, a lone wolf living in the wilderness following a viral outbreak that turns people into mindless hungry zombies. She has built a crude life for herself, scavenging from a nearby farm, living off the land, and avoiding the infected. Her isolation is shattered when she comes across Olivia (Gina Piersanti, It Felt Like Love) and her dead mother’s boyfriend, Chris (Adam David Thompson, Martha Marcy May Marlene), on the verge of starvation as they head south. Used to surviving alone, Ann struggles to readjust to life among the living and the idea that there might be more life than just survival.
Here Alone is having its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it’s part of the midnight selection, which is a bit of a problem. Here Alone is not a midnight movie. Its moments of violence are brief and frank punctuation marks in what is a slow, character driven film. First-time screenwriter David Ebeltoft has written a survival film in the truest sense of the word. Here Alone concerns itself with the minutia of survival – what berries can you eat? How Do you throw creatures off your scent? Rob Blackhurst makes this all compelling in his surprisingly confident debut feature, but anyone expecting tense zombie action will be sorely disappointed.
This is a deceptively hefty film. Through flashbacks we see how Ann went from being married with a child to surviving alone in the wilderness. Ann’s journey is a punishing one from start to finish. Blackhurst pulls no punches. The film’s central trio provides a strong, complicated portrayal of painful humanity, which is a relief since the film rides on their back. The logic of Ebeltoft’s script buckles a bit at times; it was clearly written to accommodate a shoestring budget, but ultimately it delivers a strong emotional gut punch.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
For some, Here Alone is bound to disappoint. For those seeking a visceral thrill ride, this film does not have the goods. For those looking for a patient portrait of survival and spiritual death will find plenty to sink their teeth into. The film is an impressive debut with a beautiful performance from Lucy Walters. I only wish Tribeca’s sales pitch was a bit truer to the film’s real intentions. There’s plenty of horror in Here Alone, its just more spiritual and psychological than blood and guts.