Directed by Evan Schneider and written by lead actor Marc Powers, haunted by the memories of his beloved wife, who was lost in an extinction level event, a lone survivor struggles to carry on in a post apocalyptic wasteland. Will a chance encounter with another survivor change his course? Or will he continue to wander the earth alone? Also starring: Jordan Tofalo and Jen Drummond.
The first things that will likely spring to mind with this film’s apocalyptic style setting are A Quiet Place or The Walking Dead. It’s a classic choice of a world having lost most of civilisation, leaving a familiar place in an unfamiliar way, overgrown and eerily quiet. As well as being a great arena to explore loss, having no distraction from grief when you’re faced with so much isolation. However, at the same time, it’s not new ground and is fairly familiar in the landscape of how popular apocalypse and dystopian cinema have become. Those themes of grief, loneliness and despair are still inherently relatable but the way that they’re used is quite simple and misses out on a more individual or layered exploration of the relationship at the centre of the story.
It mostly explores the relationship through intimacy, which restricts the story from building specific detail or a bigger personality to its characters. The result being that their chemistry is not entirely convincing, coming across more shallow or superficial, rather than having an everyday or down to earth feel. Given that it does take place over twenty two minutes, it feels that there was the room to dive a bit deeper and flesh out their connection, to add more emotion. It can also lean very heavily into sentimentality, particularly with its use of score. Surprisingly, given the cold and unforgiving setting, it doesn’t feed much into the tone, using a softer approach.
The direction is a mixed bag, there’s some good wide shots but when it starts to get closer, there are also a few clumsy angle choices. There’s a nice use of colour, starting out with a bright palette to reflect the past, then tones itself down to differentiate between the present. The acting is solid but also doesn’t bring as much emotion to the table as it’s trying for. It struggles to build a connection or to create a larger sympathy, with the characters feeling fairly boilerplate, there isn’t a great deal to invest in. It comes across like a starting point to a larger story, akin to the beginning of a series, learning that a character has lost their partner and we’ll learn more in later episodes.
Amaranthine touches upon familiar themes of loss, grief and loneliness in an apocalyptic future but doesn’t flesh out its characters and backstory enough to make an emotional connection. It plays it fairly safe, there’s no distinct danger or fear, there also isn’t a conflict or complicated nature to the key relationship. It’s a solid foundation but needed to bring a few more layers to the table to differentiate itself.