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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Zombie Film Without Zombies: Indie "Alone" Attempts New Tack at Post-Apocalyptic Drama

"ALONE" (2013)
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Drama
Length - 6:10
Company: N/A
Website: Official YouTube

Ever since Richard Matheson's watershed 1954 horror novella, I Am Legend, hundreds of artists have tried their hand at reimagining his iconic post-apocalyptic landscape.  George Romero's Night of the Living Dead in 1968 put a new, terrifying spin on the idea, giving us the zombie culture we all know and either love or hate.

Now, Ruffneck101 Productions offer their take on a zombie apocalypse -- but without the zombies.

 . . . say what?

JUST SAY NO TO ZOMBIES

Picture if you will the Last Man on Earth (Alex Vietinghoff), a man alone, living off the cadaver of civilized society, pilfering canned goods from abandoned homes, and occupying his time as best as he can in a world from which he can draw no emotional support whatsoever.

This is unquestionably a terrifying scenario, but it's one we have seen so many times that I neglected to attach the genre label "horror" to "Alone", as scaring you is not its intent at all.  Rather, the point is to present the audience with a difficult question:  what's the point in living when every day is exactly the same, without real human contact, without end, ad infinitum?

The protagonist (in one of his many voice overs) says, "Well, at least there are no zombies," or something to that effect.

Really?  You don't notice any zombies, pal?

The only difference between his seemingly  pointless search for sustenance and a zombie wandering the earth looking for a bite to eat is the fact that he is much faster on his feet.  For all intents and purposes, this man IS a zombie.

Until the final frame of the film, that is.  It is here that we see what will either be his undoing, or his last chance to create a life worth living.  The ending is extremely ambiguous -- our protagonist's "life" could go either way.

A TRICKY SITUATION

At the end of the day, is "Alone" a good movie?  It depends on what you find to be entertaining.  For the bulk of the film, long and drawn out shots of empty land and abandoned places are the norm, with the Last Man on Earth giving us monotone voice overs the entire running time.

It's all intended to lull you into a false sense of security, and I get that, but it doesn't make for riveting viewing.  For being only six minutes and some change, there should have been some action of some kind, or at least a more effectively conveyed inner turmoil in the Last Man on Earth.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2 / 5.  There was some depth to writer/director Brock Turunski and star Alex Vietinghoff's screenplay, thanks to its clever manipulation with an overdone zombie genre.  But as a whole, even at six minutes, it felt over long and drawn out.  I wanted to see more interaction with the world, as dead as it might seem.  Never a single corpse was shown, which seemed odd.
Directing: 3 / 5.  Turunski puts on a good enough show, though he doesn't have much to work with: lonely landscapes, canned goods being cooked, showers being taken -- banality is on center stage, and he does his best to make it look interesting with unique shots and fluid motion.
Editing: 3 / 5.  There are some really neat transitions here (really enjoyed the showerhead shot, for instance) but every scene feels too long.  This film could probably have clocked in at three minutes and nothing would have been lost.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  Effective and efficient music from www.incompetech.com, MobyGratis, Turunski himself and Christian metal band Demon Hunter.
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  Vietinghoff is grating with his monotone delivery of line after line.  Chelsea Veinot plays the voice of his girlfriend or wife, but she doesn't sound credible, either.

Final Grade: 2.7 / 5

Don't forget to check out "Alone" on YouTube, check out Ruffneck101 Productions' official YouTube channel, and check in with writer/star Alex Vietinghoff on his Facebook page and say hello!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!