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Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's Dark at "The End" -- Horror/Sci-Fi Post-Apocalyptic In Zone 7 Films' Mega-Short

"THE END" (2015)
Genre: Horror/Sci-Fi
Length- 37:41
Company:  Zone 7 Films

Strange beings attack the Earth and force James (Alexander Gauthier) and Moira (Alaina Gianci) to take refuge in an abandoned bomb shelter while the militaries of the world struggle to respond to the incredibly dangerous new threat.

The rest of this not-so-short film proceeds pretty much how you'd imagine it would if you're familiar with most post-apocalyptic work: the two people taking shelter together bicker, a third party enters the mix (who may or may not have a dark side), and . . .

Well, sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it that counts.

Let's dig in, shall we?

SCARED OF THE DARK

One thing that separates "The End" from the majority of the pack of post-apocalyptic short films (or most other films in general, come to that) is the general darkness of the picture.  The doom and gloom pervades this flick from opening credits to end.  We begin with real footage of disasters, fires, war, and destruction intercut with bleak shots of close-ups within the underground bomb shelter that makes up the sole location for the remainder of the picture.

Director Bradley Grenon co-wrote "The End" with Rod Thompson, and they crafted the script out of equal parts Night of the Living Dead (1968)  and War of the Worlds (1953).  The entire script takes place in a single location, with what limited information we have of the outside world related to us via brief bursts of static laced radio broadcasts.   Instead of zombies, the rampaging, indiscriminate killers are huge, stories tall alien beings.

COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION

No one is safe in Grenon and Thompson's universe: happy families, children, divorced people, independent women, arrogant men, fighters, providers.  While one radio broadcast insists that the military forces of the world are taking the fight to the monsters, their claim is never substantiated, and it never comes off as anything more than bluster.

They can't rely on anyone else but themselves, in other words, and possibly not even that.  It's a grim realization, and it's played to the hilt.

That kind of relentless nihilism makes "The End" feel more unique, especially as a short film.  It feels uncompromising, and a story that is its own regardless of how you feel about it is always a welcome addition to the wide world of film.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  Some of the opening dialogue is a bit on-the-nose.  The bickering becomes repetitive, with nothing of consequence ever coming of their argument.  The dark overall vibe of the story is dynamite, but . . . yeah.  The form is suffering from oversaturation at this point.
Directing: 3 / 5.  Grenon's directing works, but he's extremely limited due to his location.  There's only so many ways you can shoot people either sitting or standing and talking in that little room.
Editing: 3 / 5.  The color palette looks really good and the transitions take place properly.  The film could be cut down to a much leaner machine, honestly, losing probably 60% of the bickering and some of the redundant monologue bits over the course of the film.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  George Kalyvas' original score accentuated each scene without overplaying his hand.  I liked it a lot.  On the negative side of things, the dialogue's volume levels fluctuated a little bit from shot to shot.
Acting: 3.5 / 5.  Not bad . . . Gauthier and Gianci do quite well with what they are given, particularly Gianci, who manages to conjure up tears at a moment's notice.  John Trent plays Les, and his performance is remarkable, showing a range that has to be seen to be believed.  If his dialogue was pared down a bit, this would be one of the better performances I've seen all year.

Final Grade: 3.3 / 5.

Don't forget to check back here for info on when "The End" will hit the Internet for public consumption and, until then, follow the film on Facebook!





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!