Here Alone opens with a striking shot of a woman (Lucy Walters’ Ann) covered in excrement. She washes off in a lake, the surrounding wilderness deathly silent. Later, we watch her eat maggots, spread on crackers, before vomiting everything up again. Ann later tries, and fails, to trap an animal with spray cheese.
Rod Blackhurst’s feature debut presents a bit of a downer view of a post-apocalyptic landscape via this one woman’s struggle to adapt to her new, frighteningly isolated situation. It’s also a stylish, and intermittently compelling zombie movie, in the same vein as The Battery and 28 Days Later.
Flashbacks flesh out the story of Ann, her husband (a fleetingly glimpsed, but strong, Shane West) and young infant daughter, without being intrusive. Radio reports inform us about the spread of a deadly viral infection, and we watch as Ann is taught basic survival skills that come in handy in the present.
At first, the infected are just teased via glimpses and horrifying noises. Sound design is crucial to a story like this, and Blackhurst ensures we hear every whistle through the trees, as well as every chomped bite. Gore is kept to a minimum but when it’s utilised, it’s hugely effective.
The location is fantastic, feeling isolated but, thanks to a nearby road, also just on the edge of civilization. When Ann’s makeshift life is interrupted by a father-daughter duo, the story is further complicated as all three are forced to face up to issues they thought had been left behind in the civilized world.
As most decent zombie movies are, Here Alone is more focused on its three central characters than the spread of the virus itself (though we are informed it hasn’t made it to Canada yet–some day a movie will destroy the Great White North, and our perception of same as a safe-land will forever be tarnished).
Blackhurst and screenwriter David Ebeltoft (with whom he worked on the similarly-themed short Alone Time) are primarily focused on asking what would happen to humanity without our modern conveniences. Ann keeps all of her belongings in her car as normal, for example.
Here Alone is, therefore, a strong argument for how strained, complicated human relationships don’t get any easier once half of humanity is wiped out. In this way, the film is considerably compelling, the performances strong across the board, and the action (or lack thereof) is captured beautifully.
But it isn’t anything terribly new or exciting, particularly in an already overpopulated sub-genre.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Rod Blackhurst
Writer(s): David Ebeltoft
Stars: Lucy Walters, Shane West, Gina Piersanti, Adam David Thompson
Release: March 31, 2017
Studio/ Production Co: Easy Open Productions
Length: 89 minutes
Sub-Genre: Zombies, apocalypse