When we’re introduced to Thomas (Quentin McCuiston), he is seen robbing a dead man of his coat in the middle of an empty city marred by references to a “mandatory evacuation.” Thomas appears unaware of the city’s plight, however, even when approached by Raven (Sarah McKenney) and James Carter (Wynn Reichert), two other survivors scavenging the area, despite the apparent health risks. Thomas is dubious about his new friends’ intentions, however, and his concerns may not be unfounded.
D. Erik Parks’ Thieves gives us a post-apocalyptic tale that says as much about the potential condemnation of humanity as it does about its salvation. Painting an empty and bleak landscape in short order, the film gives the illusion of epic breadth even when few characters and empty locations are common resources for an independent filmmaker; Parks transforms what some could see as a limitation into a legitimate aspect to a grander narrative.
That said, I found myself a little uneasy with the character developments. Thomas operates from fear and lack of knowledge and trust (or at least he fakes lack of knowledge well), but Raven and James Carter are extremes. Because both their behaviors are major plot points, I would’ve liked to ease into their personalities a bit better; there’s more mystery to James Carter than Raven, and why they’re actually together, but that just makes for more questions of character motivation.
It’s not easy to establish complex characters in eleven minutes, however, so I understand the need to force developments in some ways, but I also would’ve liked something more. Maybe I just wanted less ambiguity in the ending. Then again, I don’t know that this tale needed extending; even with the variations, every post-apocalyptic tale tends to head in the same bleak direction, so maybe it’s better to stop it shy of becoming too common.
Overall, though, it is nice to see a post-apocalyptic film that hasn’t completely devolved to zombies running around or people riding the streets in death machines. Maybe that’s still to come, but there’s a realism to this film that is refreshing. I would’ve liked more on the character side of things, but I do think the filmmakers were wise to make the most of their resources, and never betray a sense of limitation otherwise.
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