In post-apocalyptic America, in a region cloaked under a blanket of snow, a family are doing their best to survive, with little access to food, supplies and medicine. To make matters worse, they have a teenage daughter that they are trying to keep alive while they pray for a cure to the zombie infection that has taken her. All the while, they are at the mercy of roaming gangs of scavengers. This is the set-up for Forget Everything And Run, a low-budget zombie survival movie that boasts some good performances, but doesn’t bring much fresh meat to the table.
When a group of scavengers using bound captives as human shields assaults the family’s hiding place, a paranoid stand-off ensues. While mum Joe (Marci Miller) holds the wounded bandit chieftain at gunpoint, dad Ethan (Jason Tobias) decides to head to the raider’s encampment to look for supplies and medicine.
There are nods to the current pandemic, with talk of travel restrictions and curfews in the opening scrawl, but despite these contemporary allusions, the story doesn’t feel fresh. Both visually and in terms of the family dynamic it depicts, it owes everything to grimy yet sentimental survival thrillers like Bird Box, The Road and A Quiet Place. Jason Tobias, who co-wrote and directed the piece, looks like he could be cosplaying as Joel from The Last of Us, with his scraggly beard and flannel shirts. His performance is strong, and his relationship with his son (Danny Ruiz) is believable and touching at points.
While the title promises action and travel, the film itself is heavily restricted to handful of locations. This is perhaps its biggest problem. The film opens on a tense tussle with a zombie, a frantic melee made all the more compelling by some tight camera work. However, after the initial firefight, we settle into a few more uncomfortable standoffs, and the pace inevitably slows. We take a few tangents into flashback in order to see what the player’s lives were like before the infection took hold of the nation, but these do little to add depth to the characters. Long scenes of dialogue become the main mode, and while the performances are heartfelt and engaging, the pace is anything but fast. A slightly mawkish score doesn’t help things, and rings a little false when the performances are providing sufficient emotional cues for the audience.
With a minimal budget, the zombie menace is more of an off-camera presence than an immediate threat. That said, the filmmakers do a good job of suggesting the kind of gore that their budget wouldn’t stretch to, and the film does not feel totally bloodless. What’s more, the action is engaging, and there are several sections where advancing menaces could have you on the edge of your seat.
The cinematography from Jimmy Matlosz is simple but effective. The striking barrenness and sterility of the snowy landscape is neatly evoked, and the flashback sections are shot in warmer, more vibrant tones. This really plays into the contrast between the abundance of the past and the desperation of the present.
Forget Everything and Run contains many of the ingredients of a gripping tale of survival against the odds. That it doesn’t make for the most engaging experience is not the fault of any of the players behind or in front of the camera. It’s just that these elements are now so common that any film in the oversaturated sub-genre needs to work extra hard to carve out its own niche. The story is also not helped by pacing issues. With some good performances and camerawork, the film is a solid entry into the canon. However, with its all-too recognisable tropes and motifs, it is unlikely to stand out in an overcrowded field.