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We All Fall Down (2016)
Falls flat on its face.
Full disclosure: I was actually one of the Kickstarter backers on this film, which is why I'm using an alternative name here. I'm not writing this review out of malice towards the creators; they delivered on what I paid for. The thing is what I got ended up being different than what was promised in the campaign and the final product suffered from such an alteration leaving much to be desired. So much so that I couldn't let such a letdown slip by and felt the need to speak out. However, I refrained until it was released to the public as I felt doing so before hand would make it look like I was trying to defame the film and I wanted to see how audiences thought of it coming in blind. Now that it's been out for a week as of writing and now that the users have spoken, I cannot hold my silence any longer.
We All Fall Down was the worst movie I had the misfortune of supporting on Kickstarter. Let me explain.
Our story, or what semblance of one there is, takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where adults have transformed into zombies and kids below the age of 18 have to fend for themselves. Our hero Todd, who just hit the "transformation" phase, and his younger brother Benny scour the desolate area trying to survive on their own. While on their journey, the two get kidnapped by a cultist tribe lead by the crazed teenage queen Matra looking for recruits. Todd must now come to terms with his surroundings and save his brother before the mute kid becomes a wild savage. And that's pretty much it.
If you thought that synopsis was a bit underwhelming, that's because the entire movie was incredibly underwhelming. I won't lie by saying the general premise itself is intriguing and I'm a sucker for stories centered around kids. It's just that the actual plot around it was badly executed. For starters, the film presents its setting in a rather vague fashion. We aren't given an explanation why the adults have suddenly become zombies (though it might explain why civilization has collapsed) and we don't know how that same transformation process works, so Todd's internal conflict doesn't carry much weight as a result. As the matter of fact, his fear of the change isn't really resolved at the end rendering his dream conversations with a random little girl rather pointless in the long run. Most of the characters are flat with hardly any depth to them. For example, Matra doesn't have a motivation for raising a group of savages aside from power and without knowing what happened to her that made her go rogue, she comes across as a one dimensional villain. Eve, a female survivor also doesn't have much of a character aside from being the assistance Todd learns to trust as the story goes on. It's hard to get invested with these characters with so many supposedly important details glossed over or left out altogether. I'm not asking for exposition dumps, but at least include some pivotal background stuff that gives me a reason to care about why our heroes need to survive this hellish environment. I'd argue to say that the overall story should be labeled incomplete.
The worst sin this movie makes is that there's barely any zombie action, let alone actual zombies! Our heroes fend off a few of them at the beginning and that's it. This will no doubt disappoint fans of the zombie sub-genre if that's what they came here for. Come to think of it, the lack of suspense or gore will also let down fans of horror too. While the film visually looks okay and there isn't any gimmicky CGI, the acting's not really that great and the score isn't effective in the slightest. You can say there wasn't any entertainment value here due to all of these shortcomings being present.
But why does the movie feel half-baked? The answer should be a no brainier for those who got hooked by the premise during the campaign like me. We All Fall Down was actually suppose to have been a web series from the get-go, only for it to morph into a film at the eleventh hour (given the plot it's kinda ironic). While the reasoning behind this might have been an economic/business one, just because a story works in one medium doesn't mean it will work in another. In this case, the film was not shot as a film but rather an episodic series which means it was written in a way that is suitable for that field. With shows you can have an ever expanding story over the course of many episodes or even through seasons, but with movies you have to tell a complete story in the time given. There is no full story if you try and edit a bunch of episode together into a movie and that's why the final product fails. In fact, the movie felt more like an unsold TV pilot. I'm not sure if the intended web series would've fared much better, but why they couldn't just test it out with backers before going through a revamp is beyond me. To add insult to injury, the movie ends on a sequel hook that's likely not going to happen anytime soon (though if they do make one, I hope they pull a Purge and make a superior product).
When all was said and done, We All Fall Down is an unbelievably flawed film with a plot full of loose ends, poor characterization, a severe lack of thrills and a load of wasted potential. Had I known what I was getting into, I probably wouldn't have bothered with the campaign. I hope that the filmmakers will learn from this misstep and settle on what format they want to tell their stories in the future.