25th Nov2021

‘Companion’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Anna Flynn, Marcus Anthony, Eric Hanson, Russell Shealy, Stephen Brodie | Written and Directed by John Darbonne

In 2030, society fell as malicious entities appeared around the world. The survivors must fight each other and the dead. Across this brutal landscape, Ella Grace’s burden of guilt is exposed. The past, and the horrors of what she will become, force Ella (Anna Flynn) to kill what she loves in order to discover the terrifying meaning of the ghosts that feed on her fear…

Let’s get this out of the way first, with Companion, writer and director John Darbonne (The Cottages, Ice Scream: The ReMix) has created a dark, bleak, post-apocalyptic movie that offers no brightest in in story of the end of the world as humanity knows it. A film that revolves not only around the feral nature of humans, lost without the structure and shackles of traditional society AND the scary ethereal beings that haunt those left alive – both spiritually and physically manifesting themselves, feeding on the fear of the survivors. And boy is there a lot of fear – fear of hunters, fear of other survivors, fear of not making it out alive, and fear of the “companions” themselves… Fear literally breeds fear in Companion.

Darbonne’s script mixes action, horror and familial drama, balancing all the aspects of Companion‘s story to perfection. On the one hand you have the story of Ella, who is just trying to survive in this terrifying future – she originally relies on her husband Gus (Marcus Anthony) at first but after he’s injured by a sadistic preacher (Eric Hanson) she goes it alone somewhat – learning from a stranger, Abner (Russell Shealy) about what it takes to survive. Abner is just as damaged as Ella is – both of them scarred by the loss of family members, almost running face-first into their fears… Fears that call out to the companions.

The there’s the aforementioned preacher who relishes in the chaos of this bleak future, terrorising survivors for his own wanton pleasures. Between him and the companions, Darbonne gives us the films action AND horror. Speaking of horror, Companion feels very much like its influenced by zombie film too, even though its monsters are ghouls, with a sly nod to the genre (and in particular Romero’s zombie oeuvre) via the radio DJ whose voice drifts in and out of the film an the hope of a promised land for survivors to escape to, freeing themselves from the terrifying predicament they’re in.

The one unexpected story in Companion is Gus. We see him in the films opening and we, like Ella, think he dies from his wounds following the altercation with the preacher. But he doesn’t, instead he teams with the preacher out of sheer desperation! It’s the first of Companion‘s twists… But to say more about them, or the others in the film would do Companion a disservice. You need to go into this one with as little information as possible; after all the characters within it know nothing – about what’s happening, what the companions are etc., – and neither should the audience. Learning what’s going on along with the films cast is what makes Companion such a success.

Ultimately Companion is a philosophical look at life and death, all told in a circle of violence and horror that spins round and round and round. The vicious cycle of life in a vicious circle if you will.

**** 4/5

Companion is available on VOD now from Level 33 Entertainment.

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