A title card informs audiences that the epilogue takes place two years ago. This places it squarely sometime in 2020. But a news anchor reporting on a presidential briefing about the coronavirus says those remarks were from the first few news conferences on COVID-19, while then moving into a fake announcement that the coronavirus is clearing up, so restrictions are lifting. Yes, the movie is an alternate future kind of thing, but if the epilogue takes place in 2020, so when exactly were those first briefings? Since the crux of the film is that the pandemic only got worse, this is confusing and a strange, bittersweet note to end on. Nothing about this makes sense or lines up with either reality or the fictional timeline Safer at Home presents. It is wholly unnecessary, as the ending proper is emotional and engaging enough. The epilogue is just padding, and it fails, hard.
While the first two or three minutes and the final few moments are underwhelming and awkward, to say the least, Wernick has crafted an engaging little movie that will keep viewers on the edge-of-their-seat. To start, the cast is terrific. While it might be hard to act with others via a computer (or phone) screen, they all come across as lively folks who care about each other. Once the crap hits the fan, their desperation is felt in every consideration and action.
“…will keep viewers on the edge-of-their-seat.”
The script nicely lays out everyone’s motivation, so how each person reacts makes sense, even if it might be against their better judgment. The direction keeps the tone just right as if one did not know any better, the first 10 minutes, or so, of Safer at Home would not indicate what it truly is. Wernick also cleverly gets around the single location aspect of several quarantine-related films by having Evan stay on the video chat as he drives the deserted streets. This gives the title an extra dose of production value and feeling like a breath of fresh air compared to watching another group of friends staring at the walls in a video chat.
Safer at Home starts on an off-putting note, and the epilogue muddies the timeline to the point of confusion. But, nestled between those two baffling sequences lies a gripping thriller brought to life by astute direction, an intelligent screenplay, and a great cast. While not perfect, this independent production is still worth an adventurous audiences’ time.
"…COVID-19...has been the springboard for many celluloid adventures..."