The Sundance Film Festival is the marquee gathering for independent cinema on American shores, and the fest kicked off in earnest last night, unveiling the unique, powerful, and unusual movies we’ll be talking about for the next year. Tucked in among the dramas and character studies, there’s always a handful of interesting takes on science fiction, and one of the ones we’re most excited to see this year is Z for Zachariah. And if you, like us, don’t happen to be in Park City for the premiere, this is your first look at the post-apocalyptic drama.
Z for Zachariah is based on Robert C. O’Brien’s novel of the same name. Written at the height of the cold war, it’s a very 1970s/1980s style of post-apocalyptic fiction. There are no zombies or global pandemics to contend with, this is an old-fashioned nuclear apocalypse, and considering the Doomsday Clock just ticked one notch closer to midnight, it feels especially pressing right now.
The psychological thriller follows a girl named Ann Burden (Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street), a name that’s rather on the nose. After the world is blown to hell, she finds herself living alone in a pristine valley, untouched by fallout, where she thinks she is the last human being alive. That is until John R. Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave), a scientist, shows up and they fall in love. All is hunky dory until yet another survivor, (Chris Pine, Star Trek) arrives on the scene and complicates matters. Directed by Craig Zobel (Compliance), Zachariah is less about the end of the world than it is about the power and influence people wield over one another.
In this clip from Hitfix, it appears that everything is fine between these three people who are perhaps the last vestiges of the human race (maybe not, it’s a big-ass world out there, someone else likely made it through alive). They dance, they drink, they play games, but you know this serenity is not going to last. This is the calm before the storm, the “hey, look how great and idyllic things can be” moment before it all goes to hell and they really start to tear into each other.
Z for Zachariah premieres at Sundance this Saturday. There’s no word on distribution or a wider release date yet, but with a cast like this, you have to imagine that it won’t be too terribly long before someone snatches it up and brings it to the world.