Horror film festivals seem to be springing up everywhere these days (check out http://www.biglistofhorrorfilmfestivals.com/ if you need proof), with towns all over the world seeing there’s money to be made from hosting them. HD cameras are relatively cheap nowadays too, so if you’re motivated enough, you can make a film without having to get huge sums in investment. Combine these two things and…well, it’s still mainly zombies and teenagers-in-peril, but more interesting and unusual films are getting out there. “They Will Outlive Us All” was recommended to me by a friend who went to one of these festivals, but is it any good?
Yes. It’s brilliant! That last sentence is one I very rarely get to write for this site, so it’s extra-surprising. It’s 2016, and via a very clever opening few minutes, the world is set up for us without the need for a long, tedious bit of exposition later in the film. FEMA (the American emergency / disaster response people) leaves crates of supplies on street corners with the request to only take what you need, obviously unable to staff them, and a newspaper headline tells us of the huge number of storms that have swept America since Hurricane Sandy. But people survive and attempt to carry on with their lives, and two of those people are flatmates Margot and Daniel.
Margot and Daniel’s friendship feels real and lived in in a way that most other film friendships don’t. They have their own in-jokes and shorthand, and you might be forgiven for a little while for thinking this is the world’s strangest sitcom pilot. But their lives of relaxing on the couch with a smoke, a drink and a selection of horror films are about to be over, despite their best efforts otherwise.
I don’t want to spoil too much of this film for you, as I think everyone should go and watch it – if there’s a film festival near you, go to it, or keep your fingers crossed the filmmakers decide to release it on DVD or blu-ray. The constant storms and environmental problems New York is having cause a few more problems than just the power and water service being patchy at best, and on top of a very unwell building superintendent, one of those problems has decided to pay Margot and Daniel a visit…
The film is about 90% set in the tiny apartment that our two heroes share, and I don’t know where they found it but it looks like a real horrible tenement that the crew took over for a few weeks. Everything is grimy and broken, but convincingly lived in. It’s obviously extremely low-budget, but some of the best films are those that turn their problems into positives, and the very limited space for action in this film is never a problem.
The thing that surprised me is how genuinely funny this film is. I’m not talking about cheesy one-liners or anything like that, but clever snappy dialogue that you just wouldn’t expect from a low-budget horror film. Jessi Gotta, who plays Margot, is also the film’s writer and producer, and she’s just really talented. There’s a mix of snappy friend-dialogue, some pretty funny cutaway gags, silly sight gags (the two flatmates being dragged along the floor is hilarious) and on top of all that a plot that is interesting and compelling. She’s also a fine actress, and her co-star Nat Cassidy is great too. Add in a few minor supporting parts that are all decent and…I’m gushing a bit now. I’m just really excited to get to review something decent!
As long-term readers may know (do we have any long-term readers?) I watch a lot of SyFy Channel movies, Asylum movies, and they’re nearly always the same sort of thing, and never get above a very low threshold of entertainment. Watching “They Will Outlive Us All” makes me hate those films even more and wish that Patrick Shearer, the director, and Jessi Gotta would get money thrown at them to make these sort of films for a bigger audience. A horror-comedy film that manages to have real scares and real laughs and not sacrifice either is a rare thing indeed.