by Brandon Thomas
The opening minutes of Go/Don’t Go hint at a burgeoning relationship drama. Shy boy meets an outgoing girl. Girl draws the boy out of his shell. Hints of electricity crackle as they find themselves engrossed in conversation. The parts are all there, but as the scene comes to a close, Go/Don’t Go crosses into something a little more…sinister.
Set in a not-so-distant future, Adam (writer/director Alex Knapp) spends his days completing routine tasks. He cleans, prepares meals and works on repairing a car. When not doing his day-to-day, Adam wanders the countryside, checks homes and marks areas on a map as “Go/Don’t Go.” Adam appears to be the only person left.
Isolation and loneliness exist in the periphery of every post-apocalyptic type movie. In Go/Don’t Go, the isolation is front and center. Adam doesn’t spend the entire running time evading cannibalistic marauders or dispatching shuffling zombies. No, Adam’s conflict exists in the haunted memories of a past love, K (Olivia Luccardi, It Follows).
Looked at as a typical horror/thriller, Go/Don’t Go could be a frustrating watch for many. There’s a purposeful aloofness to the narrative that builds a lot of mystery, but also never shows much interest in resolving said mysteries. Adam’s flashbacks fill in interesting character gaps instead of explaining how Adam found himself in his current situation.
The film’s most interesting angle is how it plays with metaphor. Is the landscape in which Adam lives even real? Every house he enters has running water and electricity. The market he goes to is always stocked full of fresh products. Maybe Adam’s shyness, hinted at in those opening minutes, has consumed him after the ending of a relationship. Of course, nothing is definitive and most of this is left to the viewer to decide.
Knapp’s handling of familiar territory is a breath of fresh air. Despite the lack of momentum in the narrative, Knapp taps into a sense of urgency through clever editing. This allows layers of character to be peeled back piece by piece. It’s enough to keep us interested and invested in a story that moves at more of a sporadic pace.
By focusing on character and theme, Go/Don’t Go manages to stand out in a sea of post-apocalyptic tales.