FEATURE FILM REVIEW
WHEN EVERYTHING'S GONE
A post-apocalyptic thriller about a man named Rory who has survived a devastating plague by hiding out in solitude for over a year - only to be haunted by the loss of his brother.
LET THE RECORD reflect that I am a massive fan of pretty much everything with a post-apocalyptic theme. But, also, let the record show that, even without that personal bias, on an objective level, I more than likely would have still enjoyed this movie; “When Everything’s Gone” is really well put together overall. From the mind of writer Alex Alessi, who also co-directs, and stars as the older version of Rory, one of two brothers in this film, “When Everything’s Gone” is a character-driven story of survival.
What I liked in this film is that by the time we meet Rory for the first time, we’ve already missed a lot from the outside looking in, and “When Everything’s Gone” makes great use of flashback sequences to fill us in on the details we missed as the main story still progresses forward. I’ll readily concede that I wasn’t too sure about how this was going to pan out at the beginning – we so often think of big-budget projects when it comes to post-apocalyptic fare because a lot needs to be shown, and entire cities often need to be cleared out as well. Alex and co-director Jeff Stewart do a stellar job of working within the theme and a smaller budget; they might not be able to show you nearly as much as you might hope at times, but by the same token, they smartly zoom in on the key points we need to know to make it work. With there being no ability to communicate on a major scale in the plotline, it makes sense that a lot of what gets revealed is told to us like a story, as opposed to seeing it onscreen. Personally, I’m cool with that within this kind of setting – it makes perfect sense in its own strange way.
All-in-all, I felt like the storytelling itself moved with confidence in a great direction. As it bounces around between the flashbacks and the present-day, Alex did an exceptional job of making sure that there are no real gaps in the story, and by the time things are over, all our questions get answers – and of course, I dig that too. I’m not even going to argue on behalf of loving ALL the answers necessarily, or even the way “When Everything’s Gone” ended in the very final frames – but the journey we take to get there is extremely well thought-out and well played by the actors we meet. For instance, Casper, a father figure played by Alex Emmanuel, is a highly intriguing person introduced to us - especially because at the point where we meet him, we’re still not at all sure where this storyline will go. So, we kind of end up questioning his motivations for a while before we feel comfortable with knowing where he stands in this tale. The older version of brother Chris, played by Gabriel Rush, was fantastic, in my opinion, and he’s got quite the crucial role to be played in this story, though arguably we don’t spend nearly as much time with him as we do with Rory. Alex does a solid job of stepping in front of the camera after having written the film and delivers a great mix of both strength and confusion as Rory tries to navigate his way through what’s essentially become an all-new world for all involved.
WHERE "WHEN EVERYTHING'S GONE" EXCELS THE MOST IS WHEN WE'RE WITH THE MAIN CHARACTERS TRYING TO SORT OUT THE PIECES OF THE STORY...
As you dive further into the storyline, we’re introduced to the reasons that everyone on Earth is gone – which is – spoiler-alert – largely a cross between a plague and a cult-like gang known as the Eleventh. I probably liked the concept more so than visually seeing it somehow. Like, if the Eleventh had remained something closer to a spooky campfire story without really being able to put an image to them, I kind of feel like “When Everything’s Gone” might have had the potential to be more mysterious. That being said, there are several plot points that require interaction with the Eleventh before this film wraps up and its story continues, so I understand why Steward/Alessi felt it necessary to include them; and to be fair, they’re creepy enough to make it work, albeit in more of a low-budget horror type-way.
Without question, where “When Everything’s Gone” excels the most is when we’re with the main characters trying to sort out the pieces of the story they’ve got and deal with the terrifying hand they’ve been dealt in trying to live in a post-apocalyptic world, which clearly ain’t gonna be easy for’em. One of my favorite scenes in this film goes into what becomes a brilliantly endearing and humbly human scene with Rosie (Catherine Blades) and Rory in the kitchen getting drunk on Casper’s homemade rum. Where all three of them seem to forget the weight of the world for just a moment to choke down what you can only imagine would be some seriously raw fluid (described as BOLD) as they enjoy themselves for a brief moment. Most of “When Everything’s Gone” is decisively serious, and has that heavily shrouded veil of mystery to it, so to have the film’s main characters let loose for a scene allows us to reset, take a breather with them, and prepare for whatever might come next as they choose to pursue a somewhat mythical place known as Eden - which as far as they know, may, or may not exist. It opens the door for us to debate and question what we would do as we ride through this film with Rory, Rosie, and Casper – would we stay safe within our bunker, or would we roll the dice and chance the start of a new life, even with a potentially murderous group of people roaming around the land lookin’ to stab anyone they can, with whatever they’ve got that’s pointy and sharp? Life is for the living, as they say – so it’s hard not to come to a similar conclusion as the characters of “When Everything’s Gone” eventually come to, but that’s a large part of what makes a story like this believable, possible, and more real than you’d expect.
...IT'S ALL ABOUT DOING THE BEST WITH WHAT YOU'VE GOT.
While I probably wanted a little bit more out of the ending of this film than we get and wasn’t too much of a fan of the “Boat woman” character/the way she appears to help steer the finale of this story, outside of that, I felt like “When Everything’s Gone” was a great visual metaphor for what the movie is really all about at its core; it’s all about doing the best with what you’ve got, and surviving the experience. I’m going with an enthusiastic three and a half stars out of five, and I feel like I’d watch it a second time.
DROP A COMMENT, RATE THE MOVIE, OR SHARE?