Apocalypse Road Review
Apocalypse Road is a 2017 thriller about the journey of two sisters while separated during a post apocalyptic depression.
The end of the world and life for those left behind have become a genre in movies all their own, films that run a wide spread between explosive vehicular carnage to deeply personal, existential treatises on what it means to be human. Themes of isolationism and survival steer these movies and while many have ridden on the coattails of bigger successes, a few manage to make their mark in a trend of movies that are rife with cliché. Now comes Brett Bentman‘s Apocalypse Road, another riff on the lot, a flawed but ambitious film with much that we’ve seen before though not without some interest.
In an unstated future, the world has fallen into, as the title makes clear, an apocalyptic chaos. Humans at the time are marked, a QR code of sorts tattooed on the flesh that tracks everyone, rich or poor. Roaming this desolate landscape are two sisters, Natalie (Katie Kohler) and Sarah (Ashlyn McEvers) West, packing all they carry on their backs, travelling with a pistol loaded with only six more rounds, hoping to make it to the east coast where salvation is said to lie. Working their way through abandoned warehouses and such, they are eventually separated while escaping a gunman. Now, each on their own, with an outbreak on the rise and armed marshals ordered to shoot anything on site, they must try and find each other, both facing incredible odds and terrifying unknowns.
I’ll avoid running off a list of influences as the genre is packed enough with standards that have set these kinds of movies in stone. Bentman, who also wrote the screenplay, settles into plenty, purposefully, and populates the story with a mix of familiar setups and payoffs while wringing a few new ones from the tried and true, keeping this mostly a conversationally-driven story that parallels two very different paths the girls travel upon in trying to find each other. Sarah ends up entangled with an extremist group of violent human hunters, led by a twisted leader (Todd Jenkins) who take her into the fold of sorts while Natalie is befriended by another loner named Derek (Ben Rigsby Jr.), who offers her his companionship and skills while she looks for Sarah. Meanwhile, a sniper named Hugo (Lance De Los Santos) is hired by a disturbed woman named The General (Tiffany Heath) to bring the girls in. This is a terribly unsafe world.
The film is decidedly low budget, though if anything, Bentman does best in giving the film some space, creating plenty of tension-riddled moments and along with cinematographer Michael Ray Lewis helps Apocalypse Road to be as good looking as it is. At a curt 88 minutes, he compress much into the runtime, though even so short, feels lengthy. The larger issue with it all though is the often lackluster delivery of dialogue, much of which simply has no weight. The movie has many good moments and ideas, using flashbacks and some smart editing, but they are often undercut by lifeless performances that give no greater sense of urgency to it all. We are never quite clear what motivates a few key characters and are instead left with cryptic prose that certainly lends some mystery to what’s happening but nothing that gets resolution.
Apocalypse Road is a slow, quiet, walking, talking end of mankind and as such, for fans of more esoteric thinkers, has much to ponder. Despite its lapses, there’s no denying its oddly compelling pull to know where it’s headed, and indeed the finale is unexpected and in many ways could been seen as seeped in metaphor (their last name and the direction they are going is a loose fit in itself). A curious twist on the genre, this won’t be for everyone, but should satisfy those who enjoy unconventional filmmaking.
Apocalypse Road Review
Movie description: Apocalypse Road is a 2017 thriller about the journey of two sisters while separated during a post apocalyptic depression.
Director(s): Brett Bentman,
Actor(s): Katie Kohler, Ashlyn McEvers, Nellie Sciutto