After their parents are murdered, sisters Matti and Joslyn are left to fend for themselves in a barren, post-apocalyptic future. With only sorrow and painful memories left in their home, the two set out to find their Aunt only bringing with them some canned food, a copy of their favorite book, a shotgun and a handful of shells.
BrinkVision's latest release is the sophomore post-apocalyptic feature from director Paul S. Myers, "5 Shells". While post-apocalypse movies are becoming a dime a dozen anymore, "5 Shells" aims to take a more low-key approach to the idea of a world gone to waste and integrates the childhood fantasy adventure, "The Wizard of Oz" into it's tale.
Matti and Joslyn are two sisters who are hidden away beneath the floorboards of their home while their parents are being murdered. They try to return to their daily routines but their environment only serves as a reminder of what they no longer have. Matti takes charge and packs up food and a shotgun, along with what few shells she has left, and heads out into the wasteland with her sister in an attempt to make it to their Aunt's home.
Right off the bat, I liked the style of "5 Shells" with its minimalist approach of a dead world. Granted I'm sure budgetary restraints had a lot to do with that, but still, the movie's focus is on the two sisters and how they react to being forced out into the wilderness when their parents are murdered. For me, "5 Shells" represented what a post-apocalyptic world would be -- quiet with vast emptiness everywhere. And credit to Paul S. Myers for allowing scenes to play in silence. The movie could have benefited from some minor trimming and a shorter runtime, but overall I didn't mind the length or the pacing. The long stretches of silence reflected what a true post-apocalyptic environment would be.
The reason the movie lacks action is because it's more about the emotional and psychological state of the sisters while they try to make their way to the home of their Aunt. It isn't so much about survival against the environment or people, but these two girls having the will to move forward. And I find that interesting because that's where Myers tied in the "Wizard of Oz" elements into the movie. Certainly you'll find parallels between the characters of "5 Shells" and the "Wizard of Oz" but it has more to do with the themes from L. Frank Baum's story and how it affects Matti and Joslyn.
It appears that the book has more meaning for the older sister, Joslyn, who keeps it with her on the journey. But you begin to realize it has more of an impact on Matti; while the younger sibling, she takes charge and tries to maintain a sense of control in a hopeless situation. And so her reality and her desire to find happiness (somewhere over the rainbow) start to merge together as things become bleaker for the two as time goes on. She wants to be anywhere but where they are and so Matti begins to become lost to her own fantasies in attempt to try to survive. It allows the feature to be more interesting; it's more of an internal struggle for suvival for these girls.
"5 Shells" is a rather bleak movie with rape and murder rampant in the lives of Matti and Joslyn as they try to survive and find what remnants they can of happiness in a dead world. Even the bonds that tie the two together slowly begin to dissolve on their journey. Post-apocalyptic movies are rather stale these days as they're all beginning to blur together but "5 Shells" was a bit refreshing in its minimalist approach and focus on the psychological, rather than, well, everything else that's in post-apocalypse movies. Perhaps with a shorter runtime the movie could have been tighter, but as it stands, it's an interesting but stark look at two girls in a wasteland where the only thing that's left are their fantasies.