Written and directed by lead actor Alex Alessi, co-directed by Jeff Stewart, in the wake of a devastating plague that has killed most of the world’s population, a man searches for other survivors, for answers, and for hope in a world where nothing is quite as it seems. Also starring: Alex Emanuel, Catherine Blades and Gabriel Rush.
There’s a certain couple of categories that come with films exploring the end of the world, typically dramas about loss, isolation and fear or violent stories of survival and carnage, and When Everything’s Gone falls into the former. Alex Alessi’s directorial style here brings a more everyday quality, it’s not trying to cheaply add intensity through blood and gore, it’s focused on the emotions of the story. That choice has advantages and disadvantages, it allows the story to have a sentimental or thoughtful feel but it does hinder the attempts to bring through elements of danger and risk. That struggle to create a darker edge does affect the film overall, for an apocalypse style film it’s playing it too safe. The tone befits more of a simple, slow drama exploring emotional trauma which has value on its own but in this balance, doesn’t quite click.
Having that lack of variety does also make it difficult for the story to build up momentum. It has a solid foundation of emotion and the basics of its plot but the filling in between is fairly minimal. There’s a touch of familiarity to the path that it takes, granted there have been a lot of end of the world style stories so it’s hard not to overlap. When it does go for a more intense form of drama, it sadly misses out on a sincere note, it hasn’t prepared itself enough to get across bigger dramatics. A lot of that means that while the setting is clear, it doesn’t capture the atmosphere of an apocalypse style world. Hitting that down to earth style in both writing and cinematography fights against the setting, rather than working with it. It also moves at a slow pace which won’t work for everyone.
The cast all do solid work but again there’s a missing depth or sincerity to the emotion. That isn’t to say it’s not there at all, Alex Alessi brings across the internal conflict and reminiscences of Rory well. The mix of past and present allows you to connect with his struggle, while not revealing everything immediately. However, as it spends a great deal of time in that realm of familiarity, it’s hard for it to make a more lasting impression. It’s playing things overly on an even note all the way through and without that successful variety in tone, pace or energy, it can’t hit as hard as it needs to.
When Everything’s Gone tells a story of regret, trauma and loss in an apocalyptic world but struggles to benefit from the weight or darkness that setting has to offer. It has a solid cast and emotion throughout but its style keeps hitting the same note and can’t break out enough to add some variety. The cinematography takes the everyday style a little too far which prevents it from ever embracing that end of the world style atmosphere. It has the foundation but its execution needed to take a few more risks.