Dustin Nowlin, Zachary Smith
Being alone can be brutal. It's the reason solitary confinement, in the prison system, is considered the harshest of punishments. Many people joke that being stranded on a beautiful island, with lots of food and drink, is paradise - but that's only because they haven't thought it through. Or have never been truly, utterly by themselves. Humans are social animals. We need interactions to keep a healthy mind. It's in our genes.
So what happens if after a world disaster - you are left the only human on earth? In the case of this short film, a global flood many... many moons ago has left the planet almost empty. Aea has found herself in a brutal situation - being the last human on the planet. The last remnant of humanity left to wonder alone. To fend for herself within the ruin of her civilization. Nobody but herself to keep her company - and survive. As Aea treks on, remembering a glorious past, us viewers want nothing more than for her to find someone alive. Someone to share her life with and perhaps start anew. "AEA" really is a scary flick when you consider the content. Eternal solitary confinement. Eternal solitude. Much like the deserted island scenario. However, everything is not alright with this film. More on that below.
"AEA" is a great looking indie flick. Sometimes even fantastic looking. I'm a huge fan of contrast and Dustin Nowlin's short movie is everything I enjoy, visually, when watching a movie. It also features some beautiful locations and even has some splendid looking sets for the flashback scenes. So what's the deal? Production elements do not always mean a great film. Yet by no means am I writing that "AEA" is not a good movie to check out. Honestly? It's a decent flick. I've seen many worse productions that even had good budgets backing them. "AEA" is easily watchable - and clocking in at under fifteen minutes, it's over before you know it. So again, you're asking what gives? Here goes.
First and foremost - I was immediately apprehensive before I even hit the play button. It's own plot description, claims that "AEA" is a remarkable film. Seriously? Are you calling your own production remarkable? Perhaps I misunderstand, but you generally don't claim your own movie is that good. It just seems... egotistical. However, I tried to put that in the back of my mind and moved on. The first thing I noticed were the locations. I wrote above how beautiful they were... and they are... but after reading about the global flood, and all that... why was there no sign of said flood? Everything looked clean and new. Green and tidy. No broken trees - in a wooded paradise that had just been through a massive flood? No water damage? Nothing uprooted or out of place? For me, the viewer, aside from a beach... there was no sign any water had been anywhere.
If that were not enough, Aea herself looked remarkably unscathed. No rips or stains on her clothes. Nothing. When you consider she's been whirling around in the water, as the planet was submerged, being whipped by trees and debris within that deluge... what gives? I just couldn't find myself believing anything this movie stated. It would have been better to write that humanity just vanished... than to claim it was a great flood. What's more? Aea keeps stumbling upon her clothing and belongings. Again... really? After a flood that massive? I should also point out another weird thing I noticed. All the animals were fine. I suppose they all became expert swimmers? Perhaps consider cutting them out of the film?
I also didn't really get the ending. I'll try and keep things spoiler free... but did Aea die? If so, the following words make no sense. Was she greeted by some God? Did he take her in? Give her powers? Let her die? Perhaps I missed something, but just didn't get it. What I did understand, and thought was done beautifully, were the flashback sequences. Simply put? They were awesome.
At the end of the day, the biggest issue I had here was the inability to put myself into the movie. I just couldn't believe it - I couldn't step into this world. Compounding that - is the confusing ending that was left so open ended... I simply don't know what to make of it. With all that written however, visually and pace-wise, this really is a good movie. The lush backgrounds and lavish flashback sequences kept me watching - no question about that. Definitely an average film, that could have been so much more - if the locations were chosen with a more critical eye. And perhaps, something was done to clarify the ending.