In the years following megastorm Sandy, the Big Apple has bore the disastrous brunt of 13 hurricanes. Huge floods followed. The water smells, and looks a lot worse than that coming out of the faucets in Sochi. (Which makes me wonder–did the American bobsledder in Russia really kick his bathroom door to smithereens because it was locked–or was there something more sinister running up through the pipes?) Frequent power outages make life miserable. There are curfews. The bridges and tunnels are still closed. And I suspect the Brooklyn Nets have left town. There’s no Super Bloomberg to save the day.
And while the Dodgers abandoned Brooklyn decades ago, a baseball bat does do some damage as “They Will Outlive Us All” shifts into a higher gear at the half-hour mark of its slackers vs. a desolate world of big, bad bugs. Unfortunately the hitter has awful aim. At least during that first at-bat.
For this horror tale of comic anguish and wink-wink woe, filmmaker Patrick Shearer has opted to pool his resources into a tale surrounding a pair of cautious, snoopy, occasionally nasty, wistful and dumbfoundedly resourceful people in a walk-up Brooklyn tenement. On the fourth floor, the curiosity of neighbors Margot and Daniel is aroused by the knock of Claire, who has arrived, briefly, to clean up the apartment of her recently deceased and now decomposed brother, a drunken lout who would annoy his neighbors incessantly. Hmmm, haven’t some other tenants died recently? In their bathrooms?
Faux concern, morbid curiosity and just a touch of New York insincerity are their character traits, as the platonic roommates snoop around when not nuking their slime-infested coffee maker. The building’s superintendent, Ian, seems (way) out of sorts and Daniel gets the creeps (you might too) when visiting the apartment down the hall. And are those zombies gathering in the streets? Ultimately the problems rise up with small antennae that aren’t little anymore. And that damned, polluted water.
Jessi Gotta, the hot red head who wrote the screenplay and is one of the film’s executive producers, likes to stretch the humor ever so slyly, whether it’s in her script or her character as the mildly knuckle-headed Margot. Her co-star Nat Cassidy (“Android Insurrection,” “Battle: New York, Day 2”) is no slouch (although he does appear to be one in the film). He’s had many theatrical roles, dabbles as a playwright, and is a “sandwich-winning musician” according to his website.
Director Shearer plays the film for sly laughs, whether his camera is hovering over his actors, waiting for them to react to the sludge in their environment. Or he bombards our aural senses with a weird soundtrack of singing cats. (This must be the song “Alex Yells at Cats” by Daniel Rosen, who did most of the music.) Sprinkled about is the expected low-decibel drone that makes your heart jump in anxious dread. Do expect a few squirm-inducing moments as the infestation grows.
Sure, there’s ham (or malicious bug meat) afoot, and maybe it’s a little spoiled in a weirdly independent cinema kinda way. Remember, it’s only a low-budget movie! Harmless fun.
“They Will Outlive Us All,” already presented at over two-dozen film festivals and with half-as-many awards under its belt, unreels at the 16th Annual D.C. Independent Film Festival.
Review written by Elias Savada.