Z for Zachariah (2015)
The wonderful thing about science fiction is that you can use any old storyline, place it in a post-apocalyptic or cosmic setting, and have it play out under these unique circumstances in a myriad of possible scenarios. Z for Zachariah is a prime example of that approach.
The story is simple: a woman meets a man, they become close, then another man enters the scene and things get complicated… This could be the plot of a generic romance, if it wasn’t for the circumstances: due to some unexplained event, the world has been contaminated with radiation, and the above mentioned love triangle is made up of the very last survivors. Needless to say, the stakes of this romantic entanglement are a little higher than usual.
In such a situation, emotions run high, or so one would think. But the characters in Z for Zachariah are surprisingly level-headed, the pacing is slow and the atmosphere melancholic. As such, it is pleasantly uncharacteristic of the genre, which often relies on action and gruesome violence. That said, “a gripping thriller,” as the trailer suggests, it is not. With a runtime of 95 minutes, there simply isn’t enough time to build up the tension, and with its rather abrupt ending the movie feels fragmentary. It helps to think of it more as the adaptation of a novella rather than a novel.