One of the sly jokes underpinning this striking indie apocalypse: If everyone on Earth vanished while you were vacationing in Iceland, how long before you would notice? Geoffrey Orthwein and Andrew Sullivan's subtly comic drama, shot with a gliding camera and a pleasing minimalist style, proceeds from that premise, stranding a toothsome young American couple in Reykjavik the morning after the night the rest of humanity blinks off this planet. Early scenes of our baffled travelers (played by Maika Monroe and Matt O'Leary) wandering through abandoned streets and squares prove eerie and impressive. The Americans, hoping that maybe things might get back to normal, spend the first night after the end has come in the hotel room they've already paid for. It's a few days later that they move into some strangers' home, raid a clothing store, borrow a high-end SUV, drink themselves silly at a bar. The script, by directors Orthwein and Sullivan, allows these two few moments, in the early going, to mourn their friends, families and aspirations. (One effective exception: Their realization that none of their social-media feeds are updating, which is compounded by the disorienting fact that every website still up has yesterday's content.)
A second joke, a better one, targets the solipsism of tourists. The couple gets right into the swing of this curious after-life, treating the apocalypse as a gently troubling extension of their vacation. Toward the end, the filmmakers offer up a couple plot developments, plus colloquies on matters geo- and theological. None of this proves as arresting as Iceland's cliffs and horses, or those first moments of a city depopulated.
Geoffrey Orthwein, Andrew SullivanMaika Monroe, Matt O'Leary, Arnar Jónsson, Gunnar Helgason, Berglind Rós SigurðardóttirGeoffrey Orthwein, Andrew SullivanScreen Media Films