Film review: the intriguingly surreal ‘Go/Don’t Go’

Go/Don’t Go is a deliberately-paced but intriguing indie pic set in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Surreal in its approach and supported by strikingly bleak photography and music, it’s an assured feature debut.

Writer and director Alex Knapp stars as the leading character, Adam, who at first appears a normal enough guy. When he meets the enigmatic K (Olivia Luccardi) at a bar, he is immediately entranced. They leave together, but when he opens the passenger door of his car for her, nobody gets in.

From then on, the story becomes a puzzle piece. His world becomes grim. A close-up of a blaring alarm clock announces the beginning of Adam’s day. He brushes his teeth, brews the coffee, feeds a dog (which we never see) and wanders into the vacant town where he inspects specific houses, checking if their lights are still blazing. All recorded in his notebook.

If the light bulbs are burned out, he buries them honorably, even planting crosses to mark their graves. He goes to grocery stores where no one is working and yells at nonexistent employees. He punches in the time clock at a vehicle repair shop where he is presumably employed, but when he telephones the owners about their cars’ status, no one ever answers him or returns his calls. He calls his father who likewise never speaks.

We gradually realize that he’s completely alone. Every day begins exactly the same. Wake up…brush your teeth…brew the coffee…and start it all over again.

Of course, in our current quarantine, the same could be said for all of us.

Adam roams from house to house in abandoned neighborhoods, ticking them with green checks (go) or red x-es (don’t go).

He also wanders through the woods, following an elaborate series of maps that are meant to lead him to a particular mountain, Close Encounters-style, but he never seems to manage to get there.

And he relives lightning-quick flashbacks of his involvement with K. They are going to move in together and her parents are thrilled. But — cut — suddenly they’re arming themselves to be protected from…what? K says, “We have to get to the mountain.”

Is Adam the last man on earth? But then why does he react in terror when he can hear the voices of men just behind him — and see the smoke from their campfires? What’s really happening?

Some viewers may be put off by the oblique conclusion of Go/Don’t Go. I thought it was pretty cool.

The film was shot in upstate New York, which evidently has no shortage of abandoned neighborhoods. Particularly intriguing is an extended drone shot floating above a lot of really awful abandoned waterfront buildings. The isolation is palpable.

Frankie Turiano’s digital cinematography is gorgeous, and the music by Evan Lawson, Josh Rawson and Luke Schwartz sounds great. Some of it even sounds like the Lumineers.

I’m eagerly looking forward to Knapp’s next work. In the meantime. Go/Don’t Go is available now on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu,  Direct TV, Dish Network and all major cable providers.