Skip to main content

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.

More Coverage

Mad Max at 45: The fall of a franchise?

For a franchise as inseparably associated with high-octane dystopian action as Mad Max is, its much-forgotten first instalment actually isn’t all that ‘Mad’. So, with the release of Furiosa, lets see how far the franchise may have fallen

Eyes Wide Shut 25 years on: A feast for the eyes, a nightmare for the mind

As part of Cultplex’s on-going Movie Church series, fans of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut celebrate his beautifully nightmare-ish film 25 years on

Mothers’ Instinct review: How far will you go to protect your family?

Academy Award Winners Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain have a 1960s face-off in this eerie, twisted game of cat-and-mouse

My formative film: Sprinkles of Stardust can be seen everywhere

How Ian McKellan’s narration, Robert De Niro in drag, and Mark Strong in a matted wig makes Stardust the perfect fantasy film