2 August 2013 | Aylmer
some interesting ideas, but otherwise a bit of a cheaply-made mess
I have to admit I'm a bit biased as I'm still a bit upset about being bamboozled into watching this film's Los Angeles premiere expecting (along with the rest of the audience) to be watching an entirely other movie. Nothing was announced - just the wrong movie starting playing but with the right actor (who was in attendance along with the embarrassed makers) so nobody said anything and just politely watched the movie so as not to be rude. At first I didn't even realize it was the full movie but more likely a trailer or short to pass the time, only to have it gradually dawn on me that nope, you're in it for the long haul.
A small group of English speakers are stuck in a secluded Italian villa while some sort of plague ravages the rest of the world. They bicker and fight with each other and eventually lose their minds while a disembodied doctor (Franco Nero) oversees everything like it's some kind of laboratory experiment.
As a film, its a bit overambitious considering its quite apparently meager budget. The plot has aspirations of covering how family units can form and then psychologically break apart under the stress of surviving an apocalyptic scenario. Unfortunately it's all quite talky and the cinematography is dire. There is too much shaky camera work, too much reliance on gimmicky stuff like Found Footage (one character just HAD to be an amateur videographer) and too much said without anything meaningful being communicated. The production values are cheap and there's never really a sense that the world is really as over as the movie wants us to think (the cars are clean modern models which still work great, everyone looks clean, well-nourished, has modern conveniences, etc.) and the sets are often obscured by the obtuse cinematography.
Franco Nero's presence is welcome but never really gels. Without him this would feel like a student film all the way but he lends the film an extreme amount of gravity and enthusiasm considering all others on the crew must have felt extremely lucky to have had him involved even if for just a day or two. His role feels like the very afterthought that it likely was though, as he never interacts with any other characters and all his dialog is in the form of tape recordings to himself. None of it really makes any sense as we don't even know who he's talking to or why other than to add tacky exposition, and the twist ending is an utter eye-roller rather than the shock I'm sure they were going for.
On the plus side, the sound design and musical score is nicely atmospheric and certainly would feel right at home in a bigger and better movie. Also relative newcomers David Wurawa and Margherita Remotti put a lot of heart into their performances and are the standouts of the film.