I was born in the mid-’90s, so I’ve lived through my fair share of faux disaster warnings. One of my earliest memories was New Year’s Eve, 1999 – The weird flirtations with panic that filled the air of the room, smothering me for reasons my juvenile mind could not comprehend. We all look back on this and can laugh now, but many of those who fed into the hysteria then repeated the cycle in December of 2012. Despite consistently being a hard sell on these phenomenons, I understand the innate fear they bring about – Truthfully, what could be more terrifying than the end of the world?
It is this central concern that is responsible for the effectiveness of natural disaster horror flicks like RADIOFLASH – Art imitates life, and here we have a common source of anxiety that haunts us. As the name suggests, the doomsday of this motion picture is brought upon by nuclear electromagnetic pulse that effectively kills the power along the western portion of the United States. This may seem like a minor annoyance at first, as we’re definitely a tech-oriented generation and without our smartphones many of us feel naked, but the lack of power surpasses such slight inconveniences. No heat, no water, no cold storage… This film serves as a real eye-opener as to how reliant we truly are on electricity. It affects literally every aspect of our lives.
The film follows a young girl, Reese (Brighton Sharbino), and her father (Dominic Monaghan) as they navigate their way North to reach her disaster-prepared grandfather (Will Patton). As we lay witness to their travels, we are apt to bring our own morality into question. When brought back to our primal nature, it becomes commonplace for people to trample all over each other solely for the sake of survival. I’m inclined to believe that this is perhaps the true source of horror when it comes to these sorts of films, how quickly we can turn on each other for our own gain… This was a recurring thought I felt throughout the entirety of RADIOFLASH, and if I had to take an educated guess I’d infer that it is the entire message here.
Spooks and messages aside, this film truly was a sight for sore eyes. Kicking off the journey in Washington state, I have to mention how much I adore horrors based in the Pacific Northwest. Much like the landscape dominated by dense forests and lakes, the viewer feels a deep sense of isolation, emphasizing the ‘every-man-for-himself’ barbarism brought upon by the disaster.
Aesthetics aside, the story progression was gripping in a manner I hadn’t expected. As aforementioned, it went from focusing on natural disasters to how humans devolve under them. Complimenting this, the story is filled to the brim with creative foreshadowing. I won’t divulge specific details, but I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing loose ends formally tied into exemplary bows. Not only pieced together perfectly, the incorporation of several twists and turns allowed for a horror-stricken adventure with several enticing nuances, strongly holding my attention from beginning to end.
RADIOFLASH opens November 15th in select theaters and on VOD.