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Random Movies: The Quiet Earth

by Andrew Green

Here's a movie about an apocalyptic scenario. It's from New Zealand! 

The Quiet Earth (1985)


The world ends...OR DOES IT???

A guy wakes up one morning, and his city is totally abandoned. Not a soul in sight, he wanders around for a while wondering what happened. Eventually, we learn that he's some kind of scientist, and MAY have in some way been responsible for whatever calamity has befallen the human race. However, before any of those details are revealed, we're given a little bit of fun time with our hero, as he lives it up as The Last Man on Earth. He moves into someone's mansion; loots the city of whatever he wants; sets up generators and fancy stereo systems to keep busy....At one point, he sort of loses his mind, and roams around the city dressed as a woman (wouldn't YOU?). 


Of course, such shenanigans grow tiresome after a while, so two additional characters are introduced in good order. Seems they also survived the disaster, and our hero, the scientist, begins to investigate why. From then on, The Quiet Earth loses some of its magic, and turns into a typical sci-fi, man-messing-with-forces-he-shouldn't scenario. WHY did everyone suddenly disappear? CAN our hero reverse the process? WILL the world be saved??? Although it's a bit dated, The Quiet Earth is still a fairly compelling story, and I actually liked it quite a lot until the third act, when the "suspense" kicks in. At that point, the film stops being fun, and gets too serious. 

Something this small is better off just sticking to its central concept (Last Man on Earth), and leaving the broader questions unanswered. We don't need to know whether this guy can stop the world from blowing up, or how he was involved in causing the problem to begin with -- a movie like this can't really handle such issues properly. The conflict that unfolds between our hero and the other two characters would have been enough drama to sustain our interest for 90 minutes; I didn't need to see an explosion in the end.


3 out of 5.