Film Review: HERE ALONE (directed by Rod Blackhurst / World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on April 19, 2016

in Film


When we meet Ann (Lucy Walters) in Rod Blackhurst’s zombie horror thriller Here Alone she’s been surviving in the woods of upstate New York for about six months, ever since a virus turned most of the population into flesh-eating crazies. We learn from flashbacks that when the virus hit she had a husband and a baby girl. Now single, she collects berries, attempts trapping small animals, eats grubs, and makes the occasional trip to a nearby house for canned goods, smearing herself with excrement beforehand to disguise her scent. Though a bit familiar, the setup is engaging, and there’s something cinematically seductive, even cozy, about Ann’s solitary life full of hardships, horrors and mortal danger. Flashbacks aside, the first ten minutes or so of this 95 minute indie are dialogue-free; they are tense and frightening.

Gina Piersanti as Olivia in HERE ALONE.Cinematographer: Adam McDaid

But Mr. Blackhurst’s rich atmosphere starts to dissipate as soon as Ann comes upon strapping thirty-something Chris (Adam David Thompson) lying unconscious on the road with a bleeding head wound, his teenage stepdaughter Olivia (Gina Piersanti) kneeling beside him. As soon as the characters speak, this movie — scripted by David Ebeltoft — begins grinding to a tedious crawl both dramatically and intellectually; it recovers suspense for an instant near the finish, but only to get undone by an ending that is as empty and sentimental as it is contrived and pretentious.

Lucy Walters as Ann and Shane West as Jason in HERE ALONE. Cinematographer Adam McDaid.

Here Alone is supposed to be an exploration of humanity, as represented by Ann, Chris and Olivia, in an extreme situation. Yet Mr. Ebeltoft’s observations and conclusions about women, mothers, teenage girls, about people in general, are so vacuous and off the mark that one gets the feeling his only knowledge of human beings comes from watching cable. This might not have been such a problem if the movie were carried by a dynamic plot. Instead Mr. Ebeltoft traps us in one inane, redundant conversation after another; unable to overcome the poor writing, Mr. Blackhurst can’t make the scenes work. And so what begins as a film with a sense of weight, thanks in no small part to Adam McDaid’s fine meditative shots of the beautiful woodlands, as well as to the grungy makeup and costumes, soon reveals itself for what it is—a mediocre episode of The Walking Dead, where talk replaces story and mood stands in for substance.

Adam David Thomspon as Chris in HERE ALONE. Cinematographer: Adam McDaid

To be fair (regarding the film’s dramatic action) characters are cut an awful lot: Ann cuts herself intentionally and uses the blood to distract the crazies; she cuts herself climbing under a fence; she finds Chris with a cut on his head; Olivia cuts herself trying to get at a grub; Chris cuts himself to lure the monsters. There’s more, so much cutting — not scratches, these are gashes that bleed — it’s a wonder that none of these wounds get infected. And it’s this circumstance that speaks to the fundamental problem with Here Alone: The filmmakers see the possibility of medical complications as inconvenient to the point they are trying to make, so they gloss over it, as they gloss over so many details, failing to realize that in those details is their movie.

Lucy Walters as Ann in HERE ALONE. Cinematographer: Adam McDaid

stills by cinematographer Adam McDaid © Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Here Alone
Preferred Content, Lola’s Productions, Gentile Entertainment Group
USA | 2016 | Color | 95 min.
World premiere at Tribeca Film Festival
for screening times, visit Tribeca

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rod Blackhurst April 19, 2016 at 8:01 pm


Rod here, the director and the producer of Here Alone. Thank you for taking the time to come to a screening of our film. I get the sense that you don’t like dialogue driven dramatic narratives – which is totally fine! Here Alone won’t be for all audiences and we’ve found/heard thus far that most people actually prefer the character driven scenes far more than anything else in the film. I’d be interested in hearing about what kind of films you like – or more specifically how we could have crafted a narrative within our budget range that would speak to what you love about films. It’s important for us as filmmakers to understand why people don’t like things so that we can work to make films that do find audiences.

All my best,



Jason Rohrer April 20, 2016 at 6:44 am


Congratulations on getting your movie up!

My read of Dmitry’s review differs. I don’t get the sense that he doesn’t like dialogue-driven narrative but that he thinks certain rules apply. Dmitry’s covered Tribeca for Stage and Cinema for a few years now, so if you’re interested, his body of work is available with a click on his name. You’ll find all about his tastes and sense of the dramatic necessities.




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