Written and directed by John Darbonne Companion is a supernatural horror film about difficult decisions and enduring their consequences. The filmmaker tries to mix up interesting elements of certain genres to craft something original. How successful is he?
The world as we know it has ended. Ghostly figures called Companions now roam the earth, terrorizing humankind, forcing the remaining population to fight for survival. Gus (Marcus Anthony) and Ella (Anna Flynn) find their way into an abandoned ranch, looking for resources. Unfortunately, their search is cut short by a group of renegades led by a preacher (Eric Hanson). Gus is injured, but cowboy Abner (Russell Shealy) comes to the rescue and kills the preacher’s henchmen, making him run for his life. Assuming Gus has succumbed to his injury, Ella is forced to leave him and join Abner to reach a haven called Bodega, the last fragment of civilization in this post-apocalyptic world.
Darbonne takes an interesting approach in Companion. The story can be divided into three parts. The first is the supernatural horror element. The Companions are strange creatures, remnants of deceased individuals akin to a vengeful spirit, sometimes materializing into zombie-like monsters. Their origins are never explained, and the characters know about them no more than the audience. The nature of the apocalyptic event is also not discussed. Lovecraftian narration and refrains deflect from directly answering any question about the horrors of the world presented.
“…Companions now roam the earth, terrorizing humankind…”
The second section is the post-apocalyptic road trip. Gus and Ella each have an odyssey through the deadly lands and strange creatures roaming them. This adventure makes new people out of them both and makes them examine parts of their personalities that they have always tried to keep buried deep inside. Although the dynamics between Ella and Abner work just fine, what the plot lacks here is a decent companion for Gus. Unfortunately, the preacher (Eric Hanson) is not the charismatic bad guy he desperately tries to be. The character answers Gus’s simplest questions with cheesy monologues that just don’t make sense, and his agenda and goals are unclear. That makes him like a burden on the shoulder of the narrative.
The third part is the tragic love between the leads, Gus and Ella. Seeing how they’ve survived everything together, how they are struck by calamity and forced to part ways, and witnessing their struggle to find each other in a world haunted by monstrous people and ghostly creatures is engaging. Though this segment comes to a somewhat abrupt end, it bears the film’s most impactful and emotional element. Unfortunately, it seems by the time Darbonne wanted to conclude his story, he was in too much of a hurry to wrap things up properly.
Companion has a good story, but it lacks strong characters and good acting. The characters are poorly written and performed, but the idea behind the whole thing is worth the time investment. While it’s far from perfect even for a low-budget independent film, it has its share of plot twists and gory moments that will carry the audience all the way to the end.
"…plot twists and gory moments that will carry the audience all the way to the end."