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17th March 2020

MANIFF 2020: Before the Fire

Although Charlie Buhler’s pandemic-based Before the Fire may seem perfectly timed, it fails to recreate even a bad apocalypse film, writes Michal Wasilewski.
MANIFF 2020: Before the Fire

As our world is currently struggling with a health crisis, a film about a global pandemic may have seemed perfectly timed. However, despite a pandemic being the starting point of Charlie Buhler’s Before the Fire, it is not followed up in any meaningful way and is ultimately left unexplored.

Ava (Jenna Lyng Adams) and her boyfriend, Kelly (Jackson Davis) live in Los Angeles when the outbreak of a deadly virus forces them to escape. They both come from the same rural town, but, after being tricked by her boyfriend as he leaves to seek work in Atlanta, only Ava returns.

As soon as Ava arrives at her hometown, we are thrown into a complicated network of relations. She stays with Kelly’s mom and is on bad terms with her mother, but we never get an explanation of what happened between them. There is also a man haunting Ava into coming back to her family, but the screenwriters did not care enough to explain the connection between the characters.

Before the Fire goes off the rails early into the story, engulfed by its own miserable efforts to recreate a bad apocalypse film. There is no sense of the apocalypse itself and the film’s two-dimensional stock characters are not enough to make the viewer care. Even if you somehow enjoyed following the chaotic story, its unedifying ending will certainly be the last straw.


Michal Wasilewski

Michal Wasilewski

Managing Editor of Culture for The Mancunion.

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