In the wake of a devastating plague that has killed most of the world’s population, a man named Rory searches for survivors, answers, and hope in a post-apocalyptic world, where nothing is quite as it seems. This is Alex Alessi and Jeff Stewart’s When Everything’s Gone.
As COVID took hold of the world these past few years, those of us who did venture outside during peak pandemic noticed the difference; it was quieter, calmer, and much more tranquil than the usual buzz of busy lives rushing around and going about their business. The birds seemed to sing louder, the grass seemed to look greener, and I even saw wildlife that hadn’t visited my local area for over forty years. It was a strange time for sure, yet it was far more serene and peaceful than what we had come to expect from all the movies and TV shows that have dealt with the subject.
What I can say without a shadow of a doubt is that out of all the post-apocalyptic films and shows I have watched over the years, things like Dawn Of The Dead, Mad Max, I Am Legend, Children Of Men, A Boy and His Dog, The Walking Dead, Alessi and Stewart’s 112-minute feature film When Everything’s Gone is by far the most realistic depiction of life after a pandemic that I have ever seen. Especially when I compare it to the real-life experience during the recent government lockdowns.
Now while this is a major positive with the film, it also becomes a bit of an Achilles heel too and that’s because it is so realistic and so natural that the film itself becomes quite passive. There isn’t a great deal that happens during the runtime that excites or thrills an audience. The majority of When Everything’s gone moves at a ponderous rate with the first major confrontation happening just after the hour mark. We then have a couple of action scenes quite close together including a slow-motion chase and a couple of fight scenes. I understand what Alessi and Stewart’s idea is here, they are using Michael Vignola’s music and their sound effects sparsely so they can keep everything low key, but for an almost two-hour movie the few major set pieces they do have really need to stand out. Using slow-motion and muted sounds are in my opinion the wrong choices, it doesn’t help the scenes generate much excitement and that does the directors and the film a slight disservice.
That is honestly the only thing I can criticise the film for; the acting is great, particularly our three main leads, director Alex Alessi doubles up as Rory and plays him as someone who has completely lost his way and faith in life, while Catherine Blades, who has had parts in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, is cute and spunky as Rosie. TV veteran Alex Emanuel brings some class and gravitas to his role as Rosie’s father Casper. Gabriel Rush, as Rory’s younger brother, also manages to bring a lot of poignancy to his part. The cinematography by William Donald Kaufman is absolutely flawless with some stunning drone and bird’s eye shots dotted throughout the picture. The exterior shots really stand out with the colours of the lush woodlands, all dark greens, deep reds, and browns, all of which are absolutely beautiful to look at.
When Everything’s Gone is a fine feature film made in difficult circumstances by a very talented team. What it lacks in excitement it makes up for with sparkling visuals, understated performances, and some memorable imagery.