Movie Review: EMBERS, Visceral Cinema with a Small Budget and Colossal Imagination

“Now is now. Now is now…Now is here.”

Imagine waking up one day with every memory zapped. I can only think of a few more things more terrifying than losing my memory: death, going blind or deaf, and not being able to eat pizza ever again.

In co-writer and director Claire Carré's terrific science fiction indie, Embers, we follow a handful of strangers as they wake up without memory of their past, so they maneuver through the neighborhoods trying to piece together what they can’t remember and don’t understand. The two leads are Jason Ritter (A Bag of Hammers) who plays Guy and Iva Gocheva as Girl (who is a marvel to watch. I hope we see more of her in the future.).

As the story progresses, we learn about Miranda (Greta Fernández), who is living with her father in a super-cool futuristic bunker (fancy lights, delicious furniture, and a Siri-like companion wired throughout the place which asks the same questions so Miranda will always remember important dates and events). These two may or may not know the what caused this epidemic.

Embers was co-written by Charles Spano (who also produced) and Carré (who edited the film as well), with Carré taking the director’s chair. What’s wildly impressive about Embers is it’s a crafty monster without J.J. Abrahams’ help, robots, space travel, aliens, or a major studio behind it.

It’s a transcending look at human connection during a chaotic and alarming time. 

I’ve seen a lot of low budget science fiction films and most fail hard because they rely on special effects to impress and tell their story, which ultimately makes the whole movie look cheap and unwatchable. This is where Carré outshines them all. She uses intelligent storytelling with dreary and pretty landscapes, as well as exceptional actors to lead us through their journey of discovery. I was bowled-over after watching this because it reminded me of one of my favorite science fiction films, Take Shelter (which did use CGI, but very minimal). Both films just use the actors to tell the story, which leads to a victorious finale. 

Moreover, every shot in the film is mesmerizing (this will be the handy work of a whole magnificent team of people). Carré and her team used locations that make it feel like the world did hit a reset button. Perhaps a post-apocalypse happened, but nobody got hurt, just reset. Every location is beautiful, even when they’re in a broken down church or collapsing building.

If you watch any movie this weekend, make it Claire Carré's wildly impressive science fiction indie, Embers -- visceral cinema with a small budget and colossal imagination.

Final thought: Carré is a director Hollywood needs. Give her creative freedom, a budget, and let her imagination run wild.

Embers is now available to rent and buy on iTunes: