Zombie films have endured as one of the most popular forms of horror movie for decades, and in that time, we’ve seen films that run the gamut from gore-fests, allegories, comedies, low-budget thrillers, mega-blockbusters, and everything in-between. The most consistently highest-rated show on television is The Walking Dead, one of the most well-reviewed video games in the last five years was The Last of Us, and Hollywood is still prepping that World War Z sequel it keeps promising.
In recent years, a trend among those zombie films has started to emerge, and that’s an increased focus on the survivalist elements of the fiction, digging deep into what drives humanity to survive after the world has ended. Along comes Here Alone, one of the finest entries the genre has seen along those lines in quite some time. Here Alone tells the story of Ann, a woman on her own in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. In its focus on this character, the film becomes a quiet examination of humanity, a reflection of our own tendencies and how the world might react to an event of this magnitude.
Here Alone‘s philosophy is very much “less is more.” Long segments play without any dialogue, and key information about the character isn’t even revealed until late in the film. There’s an economy to the film’s writing that is refreshing. Compare the film to the most recent, incredibly uneven season of The Walking Dead, and it’s almost a godsend. This is how you effectively build this kind of world. This is how you develop characters we can start to care about. Here Alone accomplishes in 97 minutes what The Walking Dead only occasionally accomplished across 16 hour-long episodes: it made it feel like its characters mattered.
Here Alone brings a real humanism to its world that most zombie fiction lacks. It’s easy (and fun) to paint your characters as zombie-killin’ superhumans, mowing down the undead with chainsaws, shotguns, bike chains, and whatever else they can find. It’s harder to place yourself in those characters’ shoes, and realize that if you were to survive in that insane situation, it would be thanks more to dumb luck than anything else. Most of us wouldn’t be Daryl Dixon in the zombie apocalypse; Here Alone shows its audience what it’s like to be themselves.
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