dir. Scott Lyus
Following the apocalypse the world is plagued by both faceless monsters – known as “The Forsaken” – and religious zealots who interpret these creatures as a sign of some kind of Biblical end times. With civilisation apparently wiped out, survivors Blair (Sophia Eleni) and Tommy (Reece Douglas) begin communicating via walkie-talkies and resolve to try and find each other and – perhaps – their own humanity.
From The Walking Dead to 28 Days Later and The Road end-of-the-world narratives are most potent when exploring the human condition. Sure, the existential threats – whether people, ghouls or other preternatural adversaries – make for good set-pieces, but the beating heart is always the meditation on how we behave when all is lost.
Writer / director Lyus understands this implicitly, with his debut feature at its strongest in the scenes where Blair and Tommy connect, share secrets and slowly dare to become vulnerable again. There’s an easy rhythm to their dialogue as the pair reminisce and begin to open up, their elegiac melancholy bolstered by Mitch Bain’s excellent score which recalls Jóhann Jóhannsson’s work on Mandy (2018).
Less successful is the weight of this armageddon: it remains amorphous as to where these creatures came from and what exactly has happened, with our central duo less traumatised than one might expect; indeed Blair in particular begins the film in relative comfort. Similarly as the pair move towards each other the plot falls into a cycle of peril, escape and conversation, lacking much propulsion or jeopardy despite the interesting creature effects courtesy of Dan Martin (Possessor) and performance work from James Swanton (Dashcam).
What does endure however is that heart, and the feeling that when the world goes to hell people can’t stop hoping. This sincerity – and a killer final shot – marks Lyus as a filmmaker to watch, with Walking Against The Rain forming an ambitious calling-card for an emerging talent.
© Tim Coleman