Apparently, it is obligatory now to open any review of a zombie film by commenting on how oversaturated the market is at the moment, then insert a reference to The Walking Dead‘s popularity, usually followed by a reassertion of how tired the reviewer is of the genre and how surprised they are when they find a good one. Well, I beg to differ. Are there a lot of zombie movies out there? Sure. Are most of them bad? Sure. But you can say that about every genre: westerns, cop movies, gangster movies, romantic comedies, gross-out comedies, etc. And guess what? Most of them are bad too. So horror critics complaining that there are too many flesh-eating zombie movies – a genre literally only invented 50 years ago in 1968 by George Romero, didn’t really become popular until a decade later (again thanks to Romero), and then only really exploding after the release of Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead in 2004 – strikes me as a little bit self-loathing. It’s an especially annoying complaint when it comes to discussing low-budget horror, given how the zombie genre is a godsend to folks with little-to-no money. Gore effects are cheap, it’s fairly easy to find extras because people love dressing up like the walking dead and shambling around town, and there are relatively few basic zombie scenarios used, but they can be exploited in a staggering number of ways. And to be honest, if you’re really a fan, you can usually find something to like in even the worst low-budget zombie movie. Luckily, the film we’re talking about today isn’t bad at all. I Am Alone began as a 2015 Kickstarter project that ended up raising a couple thousand bucks beyond the $25,000 writer/director Robert A. Palmer and co-writer/editor Michael A. Weiss were asking for. I’m sure there was more money coming in from fundraisers and such, if only because 25 grand doesn’t go a long way, even for a quick three-week shoot with only four principal actors. The basic story goes like this: During the filming of a wilderness survival show, the zombie apocalypse begins, leaving host Jacob Fitts (Gareth David-Lloyd) wandering through the Colorado Rockies with just his GoPro camera, while show producer Adam Levine (Rory Zacher) and cameraman Mason Riley (Gunner Wright) find themselves in the middle of the chaos in nearby Montrose, Colorado (where part of the film was actually shot). The story is framed with Mason in an underground science facility, being interrogated about why Fitts survived for days after being bitten by a zombie. How does Dr. Marlow (Marshal Hilton) know about this? Because they’ve got both Fitts’ and Riley’s video footage. Yes, it’s also a found-footage film. Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth. To be honest, the framing sequence could use work. Wright does a good job, but Hilton brings a fair amount of cheese, which doesn’t really match the tone of the rest of the film, which is more naturalistic. These bits, which are sprinkled throughout the film, mostly just serve to establish a reason to be watching the found footage aspect of the film – and to potentially set up a sequel at the end. The scenes feel weak, not necessarily because they’re bad, but the rest of the film is pretty solid from start to finish. They don’t come off well in the contrast and are the only place where the budgetary restraints are made obvious. It’s the journeys of Fitts and Riley that we’re really here to see. Wright is solid and provides a few very strong emotional moments as he makes his way through the zombie-infested countryside to their pre-arranged meeting place. But Gareth David-Lloyd is a joy to behold. I thought he looked familiar as the film started, but couldn’t place him. All I knew was he was charismatic and believable as an outdoors show host. Then, as he is bitten and begins his very slow descent into zombitude, we see that he’s the real deal. He hits every emotional note perfectly, drawing the viewer into this world with an intensity that is often lost in lower budget releases (it’s always easier to play up the comedy aspects or embrace cheesy effects). While the rest of the film plays out along a more traditional narrative line, Fitts’ struggle is key to what makes I am Alone stand out. When the film was over, I looked up David-Lloyd and couldn’t believe I hadn’t recognized Torchwood’s Ianto Jones. He was the heart and soul of that show and his performance in the Torchwood: Children of Earth was the pinnacle of the entire series. So yeah. He’s got the skills and brings them all into play here. From a filmmaking standpoint, Palmer does a great job utilizing the Colorado landscapes with the help of cinematographer Adrian Sierkowski, although there are times where the found footage conceit is tossed out the window in order to get the best shot. That’s not really a problem for me since the film looks so good, but your mileage may vary. All in all, I am Alone is a very respectable entry into the zombie apocalypse genre. By focusing so much on Fitts’ deterioration it brings an emotional wallop that many zombie films can’t quite reach and I’d recommend the film if only to see David-Lloyd’s performance. Luckily he’s not the only good thing to look forward to as this is easily one of the better low/no budget zombie films shambling through that overcrowded marketplace. I am Alone is now streaming on Amazon! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.