Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a heartfelt comedy about the end of days, is the latest example of a stylistic shift in apocalypse films. Over the last few years, global destruction films have moved away from computer-generated expositions and instead offered a more intimate portrayal of impending doom. Here are five indie disaster films that rely more on narrative than on massive explosions and sophisticated special effects.
Seeking a Friend for the End of The World (In theaters June 22)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World centers on a middle-aged loner, Dodge (Steve Carell) and his lovely young neighbor, Penny, (Keira Knightley). After learning that a meteor is headed towards earth, the two find themselves in a subdued panic. While helping one another fulfill their last wishes, their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Though at points the story feels too contrived, the strong performances of the two leads make for an enjoyable film.
4:44: Last Day on Earth (2012)
Few films about the impending destruction of New York are as understated as 4:44 Last Day on Earth. It begins with an announcement that an environmental breakdown, one that it isn't explained in detail, but is set to destroy earth at exactly 4:44pm that afternoon. It focuses on an artistic couple (Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh) as they endure a spiritual crisis and intense anxiety while saying goodbye to their loved ones via Skype. Taking into account the financial crisis that has torn the city apart, the film puts forth a message that power and prestige cannot stop death.
For those suffering from depression, everyday can feel like the end of the world. For the depression-stricken heroine in Lars Von Trier's Melancholia, that's actually the case! A young bride (Kirsten Dunst) becomes the center of one of the most disastrous film weddings of all time with the bride crippled as much by her mental illness as much as her sense of impending doom. The second act is seen through the eyes of her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who learns that that a mysterious 'fly-by planet may strike earth and destroy it. The fate of mankind isn't clear until the last 20 minutes of the film.
Take Shelter (2011)
An undervalued gem, Take Shelter enjoyed a successful festival circuit run while generating Oscar buzz that did not quite come to fruition. Michael Shannon stars as a small town construction worker who senses that something just isn't quite right with nature. Alarmed, he begins building a shelter in his back yard. The project becomes an obsession as he is plagued by visions of earth's destruction. Many, including his wife (Jessica Chastain) believe his fears to be the result of paranoia and possibly schizophrenia.
The Road (2010)
Based on the bestselling novel, the harrowing post-apocalyptic drama follows a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son as they fight to survive after a global catastrophe. Following the unnamed disaster, earth's food sources become extinct and the two must fight off their fellow man (cannibals included). Haunting flashbacks and jolting suspense make for an unsettling but moving film.