When Everything’s Gone, written by Alex Alessi, who co-directed with Jeff Stewart, is a crowd-funded dramatic sci-fi-thriller about a man named Rory (Alex Alessi). He’s survived a devastating plague and is now trying to re-establish contact with the world after the apocalypse. He stayed in solitude for a year, though part of that time was spent with his brother Chris (Gabriel Rush). The death of Chris causes deep trauma for Rory as he tries to make sense of the world he lives in. He experiences wrenching flashbacks of his sibling as he tries to move on.
After being on the road for some time, he meets Casper (Alex Emanuel) and his daughter, Rosie (Catherine Blades). They take him into their home, where they are caring for Casper’s terminally ill wife, Lilly (Sandra Gumuzzio). Rosie has heard whispers on the radio and hints from travelers of a sanctuary called Eden and argues that they must leave the safety of the house to find the people there. Rory agrees, but Casper has other ideas about where to find a new society.
Casper is destroyed by his helpless inability to save his wife and clings tightly to the past as he tries to deal with the changing situation. As the group resolves how to move forward to some kind of future they must all deal with their emotional baggage from the plague. Their search for a tribe is complicated and made incredibly dangerous by roving bands of fundamentalist right-wing death squads, who are bent on destroying any remaining survivors.
“…has heard whispers on the radio and hints from travelers of a sanctuary called Eden…”
Shooting in the forest and inside their homes are some ways the filmmakers kept the costs down throughout When Everything’s Gone. But the limited resources don’t prevent Stewart and Alessi from ably bringing their desolate world from page to screen. The script focuses on the emotional relationships between Rory, Casper, Rosie, and Lilly and the PTSD they are all experiencing as the world they know has collapsed, and nearly everyone in their lives has died.
The main actors each deliver a solid performance expressing desperation and the struggle to adapt. The challenge to forge new connections in an unfamiliar world resonates mostly between Rory and Rosie, who are most successful at embracing the new reality. Lush cinematography sweeps through countryside greenery and includes exceptional drone long shots.
Of course, When Everything’s Gone is an allegory for the Covid-19 pandemic, and the story was inspired by it. Alessi includes conspiracy-theory-nutjobs who think the plague was sent by a deity who wants them to finish the work. But, in many ways, everyone is now walking the same uncharted path into a very different social, economic, and political future. This sci-fi thriller offers a guided space to sit in this moment of transition, reflecting on the past while preparing for an unknown future.
"…offers a guided space to sit in this moment of transition, reflecting on the past while preparing for an unknown future."