The Quiet Earth (1985) – Geoff Murphy

The 101 Sci-Fi Movies brings me this charming little film from New Zealand.

It’s an end-of-the-world tale without a Hollywood big budget, and it works really well, encapsulating the loneliness, the madness, and what one could loosely call having a life after everything has changed.

Based on the book by Craig Harrison, Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) wakes up at 6:12 one morning to find out he’s completely alone in the world.

Everyone else seems to have simply disappeared wherever they were when ‘the effect’ hit. Planes fell from the sky, breakfast in bed is left untouched, kettles are still boiling.

For the first part of the film we follow Zac on his lonely journey, as he transitions from looking for people, to enjoying his solitude and life, and then slowly beginning to lose his mind, until Joanne (Alison Routledge) shows up. I’m a sucker for a redhead, and this one is a cutie. It’s obvious Zac thinks so too, and now that there are two of them, they begin to search again for other survivors, even as Zac begins to suspect a project he was working on, Project Flashlight, may have been the cause of whatever is happening.

Things get shaken up even more when another survivor arrives, and for a smart guy Zac sure doesn’t recognize an obvious trap when he walks into one. Which is exactly what he does, wandering right into Api’s (Peter Smith) trap.

TheQuietEarth (1)Now there are three of them, and they slowly begin to figure out why they are still alive. They all died in one form or another at the precise moment of the effect, in fact both Api and Joanne admit to seeing a light at the end of a tunnel, that they wanted to reach before waking back up in their bodies.

Zac becomes obsessed in stopping the next effect, and loads up a truck with the intention of blowing up the lab in which he works, and thereby bringing Flashlight to its end.

But something happens just as he triggers the explosion, and in an incredibly ambiguous ending, Zac appears to travel the tunnel, and finds himself on an alien world…

This one was really well put together, and wonderfully low-budget and entertaining. The first half of the film really emphasizes the loneliness that Zac would feel, then some of the fun he has, living it up, and then of course the mental collapse (I love when he storms a church with a shotgun demanding god show himself or he’ll shoot the kid on the crucifix).

trioearthThe arrival of Joanne and Api change everything, first Zac and Jo partner up, in all senses of the word, but once Api shows up, that throws a bit of a wrench in Zac’s plans, as apparently even after the end of the world, bad boys still have a bit of appeal.

While I’m not sure I would add it to my list of things to rewatch, I will say that I enjoyed it the first time through, and I love that it doesn’t give you all the answers, it may have been Project Flashlight’s fault, or it could have been something else altogether, and where oh where did Zac end up? And what about his two traveling companions Api and Jo?

Did you see it? What are your thoughts?



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