Walking Against the Rain (PANIC) Doubles Down on Slow, Character Driven Melodrama
Title: Walking Against the Rain
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Scott Lyus
Writer: Scott Lyus
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Starring: Sophia Eleni, Reece Douglas, James Swanton
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Panic Film Festival in 2023.
The idea of the apocalypse can be scary. Whatever horrors await: zombies, aliens, the plague, etc, the resilience required to persevere competes with the constant reminders of loneliness that threaten to drag down survivors.
This is true for Blair (Sophia Eleni) and Tommy (Reece Douglas). After both have lived on their own in a harrowing world filled with monsters, cultists, and other wandering survivors, are united by chance with each other through the ever-thinning connection of battery-operated walkie talkies. They decide to make a run together to a summer home several days journey away despite the obstacles in front of them.
Meandering apocalyptic horror Walking Against the Rain fumbles interesting ideas due to poor pacing and low stakes.
What starts as a promising low budget horror turns into a pedestrian attempt at a post-apocalyptic road trip. A dynamic cold-open sets the tone for an action-packed, creepy adventure filled with danger. As the film meanders along, however, it trades the excitement of its premise for a much more character-driven story. This is a fine enough way to tell the story, and consolidate its budget when truly necessary, but it betrays the tone set in the first five minutes, especially considering the proximity of that cold open to the action that follows.
Diffusing whatever tension built, Walking Against the Rain fails to commit to any of its ideas, offering little more than a few isolated instances of men in rubber alien costumes attacking the heroes occasionally. Each force acting against the protagonists comes and goes in rather uneventful spurts, especially the human elements. Promises of weirdos and fanatics culminate in exactly one desperate woman threatening Tommy and one religious cultist pestering Blair in a church which she easily ignores. Neither interaction amounts to much aside from proving the worldbuilding right thanks to plot armor for the two leads and a desire to keep most conflicts one-on-one.
Mediocre performances and trite characterization sink the film down further. Speaking in mostly motivational platitudes that serve little to each other and the story overall, Blair and Tommy’s communication only pushes the story along by giving the audience little chunks of themselves to cling to as they traverse through the countryside. Blair’s sunny disposition betrayed only when facing direct danger, and Tommy’s general wallowing makes the pair an odd one, but one that works well enough to support the film’s entirety. The problem lies in the over-acting in both of its leads.Walking Against the Rain could benefit from more subtle performances considering how scaled back the entire production already is in terms of violence and action.
Despite its lost potential, Walking Against the Rain does a few things right. The worldbuilding done to make this indie film work deserves serious credit. Although it lacks the aftereffects of carnage one might expect in a post-apocalyptic setting, the abandoned ghost towns and empty homes provide enough clues on how serious efforts were to maintain society before the ensuing collapse. Pamphlets litter the ground with slogans of a better tomorrow and dwindling food and water supplies force the characters to give in to their desperation more and more. By the time Walking Against the Rain reaches its finale, viewers would think they have seen everything it has to offer. Before finishing on an incredibly downbeat yet exciting note, Walking Against the Rain pulls a fast one and delivers an exceptionally foreboding ending that does make up for most of the journey that proceeds it.
Lofty ambitions and a plodding screenplay beat back harder on Walking Against the Rain more than any weather could. There is plenty of ground to break in character-driven apocalyptic settings, but unfortunately there is little new offered in this pseudo-horror romance that can separate itself from the scores of similarly themed films. Still, Walking Against the Rain offers a few moments of solid tension and a final shot that will have you grinning from ear-to-ear. If that sounds more than enough for you, feel free to add this British indie film to your watchlist and keep an eye out for any news updates.
Overall Score? 5/10