When fantastic scenarios work, the imaginative mixes tantalizingly with the familiar — each feeds the other. But since we’re already way past the expiration date on the allure of post-apocalyptic settings and their themes — loneliness, survival, grief — it’s surprising that they keep attracting filmmakers. Are those emotional universalities no fun unless the world has ended too?
Reed Morano is already familiar with crafting the dystopian, having memorably shepherded into being the house style of the episodic nightmare “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but with the indie two-hander “I Think We’re Alone Now,” starring Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning, this talented director is stuck in neutral with the illogical, unremarkable concerns in Mike Makowsky’s ham-fisted screenplay.
Left-behind librarian Del (Dinklage) likes the dutiful, custodial solitude of burying the dead in his still-picturesque coastal town, until Fanning’s free spirit Grace shows up to draw Del out of his shell through emotional questions, rock music bliss-outs and adopting a dog. There’s also the mystery of where Grace came from, which when answered, arrives as a warmed-over sci-fi twist the way too much salt overcompensates for a meal whose blandness is baked in.
The leads are agreeably present, and Morano — also the cinematographer — is a formidable if overly conscious mood-setter, but there’s nothing here about the necessary rudeness of companionship that wasn’t more entertainingly addressed in the first episodes of the comedy series “The Last Man On Earth.”
‘I Think We’re Alone Now’
Rated: R, for language
Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Playing: Starts Friday, Arclight Culver City