Many movies have tackled the post-apocalyptic zombie genre. We have watched on in horror and dread as men and women have attempted to survive bloodthirsty beings in shopping malls, apartment buildings, old houses, and vast cities. You name the location and a zombie film has probably taken place there. Within these stark environments we usually follow a group of individuals, fighting the undead, getting picked off one by one. It is not often we follow one, single protagonist and their lonely endeavor to survive a harsh world. Enter Here Alone, a somewhat different take on the over saturated brand.
Here Alone made its world debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, attempting to show the world there is still life left in the undead. As you may have deduced from the film’s title, and my introduction, this motion picture chronicles the day-to-day life of a young woman named Ann, the last living human for miles and miles. She lives in a remote region caped by dense trees and rolling hills, far from the remnants of any town or city. We join this mysterious lady as she counts bullets, listens to a foreign message transmitting through her handheld radio, and gathers bugs to eat in the form of cracker sandwiches. We get the sense that she has been at this a while, she is competent and strong-willed, yet there is air of sadness permeating her every move.
At this point we know that she has survived some harsh disease that drove her to this secluded place, but we don’t quite know what said disease did or continues to do to the world, that is until Ann decides to venture out for supplies. Here lies the first problem for potential viewers—the pacing. Some may consider life in the wilderness a little dry and hard to digest. Those who have difficulty paying attention may discover their eyes drifting from the screen to social media accounts. Even when Ann ventures outside of her comfort zone and we uncover that this is a zombie movie, very little takes place in terms of dialogue and action—we only get brief glimpses of the undead themselves for the majority of the film. However, we are spoon-fed character progression in great portions, even if it may not seem that way. We study how she lives, the fact that she must pour dirt and urine over her in order to hide her scent from the monsters that hunt her. This gives us great insight into the world in which Ann lives.
At a certain point Here Alone’s title becomes redundant, for Ann runs into two other survivors, a young girl and her stepfather. Not only that, we start to receive flashbacks, recounting experiences that led her to the forest in which she now dwells. Through these interactions we make great leaps and bounds in terms of character progression. Dialogue takes center stage as Ann gets to know the people she has encountered and they join her in her daily chores: washing clothes, gathering food, scouting the area, and setting up camp.
We are treated to a few action set pieces. Nonetheless, they are brief, few and far between. The lack of action achieves something within itself, though. Not only do we get to experience the lives of these people, but we also get a feeling of suspense, a constant wonder: When will the zombie attack happen? Once the aforementioned attack does take place, it’s that much more palpable. Many viewers will find this method of storytelling a little lackluster and no doubt will tap out before the feature has run its course.
At its conclusion, we are gifted with an ending that explores the notion of redemption. Without spoiling anything, Ann has to make an important decision, choosing either her happiness or the moral high road. Here Alone is a unique movie experience despite its common genre. Some viewers will fall in love with its drawn out scenes, others will be reaching for the off switch. Ann and her zest for life will captivate fans of novel ideas, and those who love the zombie mythos.