“I Think We’re Alone Now”: slow build to rushed ending

This post-apocalyptic film attempts to show the importance of human connection between a duo with zero chemistry.

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“I Think We’re Alone Now” comes equipped with an age-old question as its premise: What would you do if you were the last man on earth? Del (Peter Dinklage) is the last man alive in the wake of some apocalypse that appeared to wipe out humanity in an instant. The audience follows along as, accompanied only by the sounds of his work, Del sets out to clean up the mess the plague left behind in his hometown. He is unfazed by dead bodies and documents their lives by collecting the photos of each town he visits.

The first 15 minutes of the movie are almost painfully silent, with Del’s methodical and cold demeanor giving the movie more of a documentary tone than a sci-fi one. All of that changes when Grace (Elle Fanning) explodes onto the scene and provides some emotion, albeit not enough to save us from a monotonous story.

The dynamic between Del and Grace is a bit cliche, to say the least. She is loud, crass and curious. He is exasperated with her antics and prefers his work. A real Pinky and the Brain. Their conversations are painfully one-sided. We are treated to such exchanges as:

Grace: “All the good stuff is gone, like pepperoni pizza dipped in ranch! What do you miss the most?” Del: “Quiet.” It is ambitious to create a post-apocalyptic film with fishing and writing in place of scavenging and battle threats, choosing instead to center on two people with close to nothing in common. Our only taste of something even remotely science fiction is a tease of an incision of strange origin on the back of Grace’s neck. After about an hour of Del and Grace failing to connect on a true level and cleaning up the town, she claims she has something to tell him, kisses him and proceeds not to tell him. We spend the majority of the film waiting for an ultimately anticlimactic twist.

Del later finds out that, surprise surprise, he and Grace are not the last people left alive. We find Grace in a catatonic state and we meet her “mother” and “father.” As Del storms out enraged and leaves her, she alludes to a family pairing system that was created after the apocalypse. We do not get another glimpse of that system whatsoever. Her “family” whisks her away to Palm Springs, Florida and after some contemplation, Del follows her there from his ambiguous location up north. He finds her hooked up to more wires than any human being could ever need and unplugs them without understanding their purpose.

The “father” almost introduces the audience to a breakthrough in technology: a way to erase negative emotions and memories a la “The Giver.” Before he can get through his explanation, Grace shoots him at point-blank range. As Grace and Del drive out of a Palm Springs that looks like the saturation filter was turned all the way up in editing, we are left feeling empty.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers fell into a hole of ambiguity, way overshooting how much footage makes a film interesting. Without explaining the plot, you walk a fine line between keeping the audience on the edge of their seats and losing them altogether.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp | asharp@themaneater.com

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