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Film Review: WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE: A Futuristic Road Trip Movie with a Goofy Premise but Likable Stars [SXSW 2024]

Jordan Rodrigues Ashly Burch Were All Gonna Die

We’re All Gonna Die Review

We’re All Gonna Die (2024) Film Review from the 31st Annual South by Southwest Film Festival, a movie directed by Matthew Arnold and Freddie Wong, written by Will Campos, Beth May and Matthew Arnold and starring Ashly Burch, Jordan Rodrigues, Alexander Chard, Ealie W. Dixon, Diana Gaitirira, Willow Hale, Joshua Hinson, Andrew Keller, Chase Mangum, Clayton McInerney, Regina McKee Redwing, Ken Narasaki, Vin Vescio, Serenity Grace Russell, Indiana Arnold and Nevada Arnold.

Film festival movies don’t come any quirkier than We’re All Gonna Die, an entertaining look at a pair of mismatched, would-be lovers on a road trip during very unusual circumstances. It doesn’t sound very appealing from its basic premise which is set in the not-too-distant future: A remaining alien “spike” is responsible for a beekeeper named Thalia (Ashly Burch) and an EMT worker named Kai (Jordan Rodrigues)’s stuff being “teleported” across the country. Burch’s performance, however, is so strong in the movie and she is so likable in terms of the chemistry she creates with Rodrigues, that We’re All Gonna Die is more often deliciously watchable than not.

As the film opens, we meet the beekeeper Thalia who wouldn’t dare ask her dad (Ken Narasaki) for help with her problems, but her father is struggling with money issues himself so… After Thalia fights with a caller about money she owes, Thalia finally makes her way out of the house to move forward on her journey. Thalia, we learn, has lost a husband and a daughter and is struggling to find her way in life. When she meets Kai in a near-accident, he seems nice but Thalia needs to continue on. That is until Kai asks her out which leads her to ponder if there’s any romantic potential between them. Thalia has coffee already but could actually be interested in Kai.

In one funny scene, Kai explains that EMT’s are underpaid but, more or less, know just as much as doctors. When Thalia’s bees and Kai’s car disappear, things grow increasingly more complicated. Thalia is hiding issues of sorrow regarding the loss of her husband and child and, soon, Kai turns out to be just what she needs to get over the very unusual and offbeat things which occur throughout this film.

Burch is very funny in one section where she tells a convenience store worker her bagel is stale and the worker takes a bite and tells her, “no it’s not.” Burch carries much of the weight of the movie on her shoulders with a heartfelt performance full of heart and energy. There are bizarre moments like when a hiker (Joshua Hinson) pops up out of nowhere and Burch and Rodrigues can actually become so likable together that their hilarious responses and interactions become delightful to behold.

There are minor problems with the movie’s basic premise. The alien tentacle at the movie’s core is more of a catalyst for the plot than anything else and TV clips and a basic backstory isn’t enough to justify the fact that everything is occurring because of this alien “spike.” The film works better as a basic road movie than as science fiction though towards the end, the movie plays with some grand ideas of losing loved ones and keeping loved ones who are still present in our lives. In the end, the movie touches the heart but the overall premise needed a bit more fleshing out. The science fiction themes could have been dealt with in a more compelling way but the possible budgetary restraints may have held it back a bit.

Luckily, Rodrigues is likable and his sorrows and own life disappointments are easy to understand. Burch is a perfect match for him and their scenes have the romantic chemistry that is necessary to make the viewer want to invest time with these characters. Burch’s performance is showier, and a lot of her mannerisms are perfectly captured by the actress while her character’s emotions are also very relatable throughout. Burch is a natural born actress and should get some nice roles in the future thanks to her fine work in this movie.

We’re All Gonna Die has some drawbacks. The title doesn’t capture the overall sweet nature of the romance of the movie sufficiently. Also, whenever the movie gets bogged down in simplicity, it isn’t always on-point. But, the interaction between the leads makes it a journey worth taking. As Thalia talks about Kai’s calves late in the movie, it’s a scene where Thalia finally gets to express herself and her real thoughts about Kai. We know she likes him in many ways throughout the movie but the film keeps us in suspense as to whether or not she really sees him as a suitable match for her. By the film’s end, you’ll want to see them together. Directors Matthew Arnold and Freddie Wong are now on the map with this unique movie and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Rating: 7/10

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