Pull out your survival kits and tattered clothing because the apocalypse is upon us. Over the past decade, the post-apocalyptic or dystopian genre has sky rocketed. With the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent, these big budget film franchises have helped pave the way for one of the largest film and television genres of today. In spite of being a huge fan of those big budget films, I also love finding hidden indie gems that tend to be overshadowed and overlooked. Here are five indie films for your post-apocalyptic fix that you may or may not have seen:
5. Maggie (2015)
The post-apocalyptic film Maggie stars acting veterans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin as the father-daughter duo in the early stages of a zombie apocalypse.
Unlike various apocalyptic genre-based films, Maggie is one of the most human takes on the zombie apocalypse, choosing to focus on the humanity of those infected rather than their brutality. A prime example is through the character Maggie. When she gets infected it’s her family’s decision to take her home and allow her not to be confined to a hospital. With society somewhat still intact, the community is aware of Maggie’s condition and, like others infected, respect their wishes to allow the family to grieve.
This post-apocalyptic indie film may have its heightened moments but the heart of it lies in its ability to challenge and allow an interesting perspective on the genre.
4. Z For Zachariah (2015)
Everyone will be familiar with Margot Robbie’s recent portrayal of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, but a role you might not be familiar with is her portrayal of Ann in the film Z for Zachariah.
Based on the book of the same name by Robert C. O'Brien, Z for Zachariah follows a young woman, Ann, as the only known survivor of the apocalypse. With her only companion being her dog, Ann lives a life of solitude and structure, taking on everyday tasks to survive.
According to the film’s marketing, Z for Zachariah is a film about two men vying for the affection of one woman. Although this is ultimately true, Z for Zachariah purposefully chooses not to focus on fast-paced combat scenes or a world that needs fixing and Ann’s the only one that can do it.
What often attracts me to the post-apocalyptic genre is its knack for stripping away unimportant or somewhat trivial worries of everyday life (e.g. appearance or money). If you strip away this kind of stuff, what’s left is the question of humanity and what it means to be human. Z for Zachariah is a fascinating film to develop this idea.
3. The Last Survivors (2014)
There’s nothing worse than telling someone who doesn’t often go near the post-apocalyptic genre that it stars another teenage girl or boy. I myself question why writers of the genre always decide that their protagonist needs to be 16 years old.
The Last Survivors stars Haley Lu Richardson, Booboo Stewart and Michael Welch. It follows Kendal, a young girl that lives in a barren, desert world where water is the most valuable thing left. With her ill friend by her side, Kendal fights to protect one of the last known wells.
Sometimes less is better, especially for the post-apocalyptic genre. What I love about indie films is that by having a lower budget, more attention to detail is applied to the cinematography or mise-en-scène rather than how big an explosion can be. This is most certainly is true in the case of The Last Survivors.
2. Young Ones (2014)
Starring Elle Fanning, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult and Kodi Smit-McPhee, Young Ones approaches the genre in a way I’ve personally never seen before.
Though on the outside Young Ones may resemble a film typical to its genre, Young Ones embodies various other genres such as western, science-fiction, experimental and thriller.
It’s suggested from very early on that Young Ones tried to go out of the box. Whether through narrative, mise-en-scène, setting or cinematography, it was easy to sense the budding indie filmmakers who perhaps had little to no experience in the professional filmmaking environment, have an attempt at making an interesting post-apocalyptic film.
1. Air (2015)
With Walking Dead star Norman Reedus in the main role alongside Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy), Air follows two men who are living in a bunker that holds one of humanity’s last known clean air sources.
It’s their job to maintain the machines that keep the clean air flowing for themselves and its other dormant human survivors.
Similar to previously talked about films, Air opts to brings its audience in with two main characters focuses and one setting. Even though this may feel confining to some, I almost wonder whether that was the point.
Like many film genres, the post-apocalyptic genre or dystopian genre is not for everyone. Perhaps overused or uninspiring to some, I urge them to put aside the big budget ideals and give an indie film a shot. You never know what you might come across!
Do you have a favorite post-apocalyptic film? Let us know in the comments!