Review by Bradley Smith
Post apocalyptic survival horror is also a surprisingly deep, tragic love story. It’s two for the price of one with two stories featuring one woman running parallel.
One story is set in a typical post apocalyptic desert wasteland where Juliet is scavenging for food for up to 40 people, because all the food in a once sprawling downtown cityscape is apparently gone or no good; go figure. After setting up how horrible the world has become and how tough Juliet is, she crashes her van and spends the rest of the movie defending herself from a “monster” and other more real monsters.
On the B-side, or A-side depending on which genre you prefer, is flashbacks to Juliet’s life before the apocalypse, in which she develops a relationship with Jack. Snippets of an indeterminate amount of time are shown covering various highs and lows of their relationship, flowing through an emotional roller coaster.
Don’t misunderstand my gibberish, the two different stories aren’t entirely independent. The filmmakers cut back and forth because the flashbacks loosely relate to or influence Juliet’s actions in the present. It is a well woven tapestry that needs to be seen at least twice to fully appreciate. After my first viewing, I went back and re-watched it and immediately caught something in the first flashback that alludes to the ending of their story; hint: pay attention to what Jack says about the painting.
The main actors are an admirable, almost entirely believable pair. Brittany Ashworth (Juliet) and Grégory Fitoussi (Jack) form the backbone of the film with only a handful of others sprinkled throughout. And they were a delight, at least in the flashbacks, even with the devastating tragic events to which they are subjected.
The film isn’t perfect; the more I think about it, the more questions I want to raise. Time tables are never really presented, which is probably for the best. Is the start of the “worldwide epidemic” presented or was that an isolated incident? I’m not sure I completely buy Juliet’s development from pre-apocalypse recovering drug addict to post-apocalypse warrior/scavenger. And why is she out scavenging alone? She has radio contact with 36 other people and plenty of room in the van. They mention “protocols”, but you would think one protocol would be don’t go into the wasteland alone.
I think I may have switched positions on this movie while writing this. It’s a decent enough story if you ignore some of the post-apocalyptic details. I would say it works more as a tragic love story with the final moments harking back to another Juliet. While it has some tension and thrills, they mostly amount to nothing, especially on repeated viewings.
Release: September 4, 2018 (VOD & Digital HD On Leading Digital Platforms & DVD)