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First Look Review - I AM ALONE

The host of a survival show comes to realise the zombie apocalypse has struck while he's in the wild.

Review by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Directed by: Robert A Palmer

Starring: Gareth David-Lloyd, Gunner Wright, Katy Bodenhamer, Marshal Hilton


I Am Alone is something of a curate’s braaaaiiin. Gareth David-Lloyd is really incredible, and if there were a specific academy award for lead performance in a zombie film, he’d have to be in the frame for it.



The zombie canon has now reached an according mimesis with its own gory populace: like the shuffling undead which they depict, the zombie film is many in number, infiltrates from everywhere, and shows no sign of abating. Like the zombies themselves too, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish one film from the next. As Bub in Day of the Dead realised, film makers need a gimmick, something extra; hence the zombie western (Revelation Trail), the zombie romance (Warm Bodies) and whatever Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is. Kickstarter funded I Am Alone is the zombie film meets Bear Grylls, with Robert A. Palmer and Michael A. Weiss’s movie wittily blending the marauding undead with a typical ‘survival’ telly show.
Gareth David Lloyd plays Jacob Fitts, the Grylls-esque host and survivalist, who, along with his crew, sets out to the Colorado Rockies to film another episode of their popular show, ‘I Am Alone’, the conceit being that Jacob will be left on his tod for a week while his team sets off into town to capture footage and shoot interviews (therein any analogy with Bear ‘Holiday Inn’ Grylls ends). Disaster strikes in the form of a mad viral outbreak which is spreading unhindered across the entire world. Poor old Jacob, isolated and completely clueless of the grim global situation, continues shooting footage with his cameras… until events catch up with him in the form of an infected crew member.
I Am Alone is something of a curate’s braaaaiiin. The narrative is mainly comprised of Jacob alone, and infected, struggling to fight his encroaching zombie fate, all the while endeavouring to navigate other ghouls and the wilderness. Lloyd is really incredible, and if there were a specific academy award for lead performance in a zombie film, he’d have to be in the frame for it. He nails it - there’s every note a zombie fan could hope for, from defiance, to resourcefulness and finally grim recrimination. I Am Alone reminded me of that interesting Robert Redford film of a few years ago, All is Lost, with that flick’s compulsively intense central performance and themes of man versus nature (but with zombies here instead of sharks). Lloyd makes you care about his character, and his early bantastic scenes with the crew are natural and create a sense of grounded actuality. However, this cannot be said for the sub-plots of I Am Alone, which focus on the outbreak occurring in the nearby town and also, weirdly, on one of Jacob’s crew mates who has been spuriously commandeered by a conveniently local research base in order to explain/theorise just how come Jacob is so damn resistant to zombification (answer: because he’s Welsh, duh). These moments have none of the intensity of Jacob’s plight and feel a little like padding, but Lloyd’s charm, when we cut back, is too plentiful for these filler scenes to detract too much from the film overall.
Generally, the zombie film can take one of two modes - either the horror film that depicts the initial rise of the corpses, with all the creepiness and shock which that entails; or the post-apocalyptic disaster film, which focuses not only on the scares and tears of the zombies, but also the question of how now to survive in this grave new world.  I Am Alive manages to merge from both modes, showing the infection at its most cruel as we witness Jacob’s deterioration first hand through his go-pro, but also utilising the conceit of endurance TV to show a survival expert put to an ultimate test. In doing so, the particular zombie it adds to the hoard is sometimes lumbering, but also one that stands out and endures.
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