Blake (Rusty Martin Sr.) lives out on the farm with his wife Hannah (Regina McKenzie), their two kids, young Josh (Will Christians) and teenage Tracy (Katie Garfield), and Hannah’s father, Ted (W. Scott Parker III). The day is like any other, except Ted has become obsessed with recent news of a potentially huge solar flare erupting from the sun that could impact the Earth. As he skitters around, unplugging appliances and shutting down fuses, the family just barely tolerates his strange behavior.
But then the power grid gets fried, and it becomes clear that the solar flare has done significant damage. Out on the farm, with Hannah stuck in work at the hospital in the city, the family doesn’t know what to do. There’s not much panic, at first, as there’s no predicting how long the power will be down or how bad things are getting, but then Ben (Christopher Marrone) shows up, beaten and bloodied, after being car jacked at a gas pump. Chaos is breaking out all over, it seems.
And I could say more, but if I keep going I’m probably going to wind up giving the whole story in vague terms and, if you’re inclined to check this one out, I’d rather not ruin any of the few somewhat interesting turns for you, because there’s not many. For the most part, while Ron Underhill’s The Carrington Event looks quite good, it also doesn’t do too much different than most films that give us a glimpse at the end of civilization as we know it. Well, there aren’t any zombies, so that’s a start. And the film picked the beginning of the crisis as its main focal point, as opposed to many that start down the road, after events have had enough time to be appropriately post-apocalyptic.
But the result is actually not all that engaging, as it just seems like we’re sitting in on a prolonged, boring power outage with this group, save for the information we hear about what’s going on in the surrounding area (riots, looting, etc). Lots of tell, not so much show in that regard. When that reality finally finds its way to the group’s front door, it allows for a very interesting moral conflict, creating a sequence that is more engaging than the majority of what came before it. Suddenly you realize why so many films do their post-apocalyptic films further down the road from said apocalypse.
It doesn’t help matters that the group we’re spending so much time with doesn’t really have many conflicts of their own to resolve, and thus their characters often lack depth. Grandfather Ted is obsessed with the solar flare, and rightly tries to prepare for the eventual fallout, but that’s his role. Ben is the bad boy with a heart of gold love interest for Tracy. Blake and Hannah have some marital issues between them, but other than that don’t have much going for their characters. Every character fills a role, but not every role fills out a character. If there’s any character development to be had, it doesn’t show up until near the end, and even then it’s less about the characters evolving and more about the situation potentially changing.
Which brings us to the finale of the entire film which, not to spoil anything, left me conflicted. It was odd for me that, when push came to shove, I wasn’t much of a fan of the group I’d just spent much of the film with. While I didn’t want anyone to get hurt or anything like that, I wasn’t rooting for the group. I don’t know what I would’ve been rooting for at that point.
Overall, I like that we have a look at a potential apocalypse borne of not zombies, nuclear weapons or a virus, but the natural phenomena of the sun. There’s been talk about solar flares potentially severely impacting the Earth’s power grids for years, and there is actual precedent for such a thing (Google “Carrington Event” and read up on solar flares and their history, if you are so inclined). To that end, The Carrington Event could very well be a story with more truth in it than otherwise. But truth isn’t always entertaining, and in the case of this film, it feels like the filmmakers focused in on the mundane, and peopled the film with thin cut-outs of characters, rather than truly get adventurous with their concept.
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