Doomsdays

February 24, 2017

If one knew that the world was ending, how would one respond? With a great cry of self-pity, of the last days on Earth spent in a whirlwind of self-regret? Would one panic at the calamity, and be so fixated on trying to find any means of survival that the thoughts stirred would rise no higher than a frightened and startled animal? Or would one indulge, mercilessly, in what the soon-to-be-expired world had to offer? It is with the last proposal that two young men choose, and we are witnesses in their decision.

 

Granted, the film is no apocalyptic feature. The impending doom is a mirage that both men revel in. One does so out of authentically believing humanity cannot escape its dependency on oil, as a fish to water, and as soon as the wells dry in Arabia humanity will cease to be. The other is a masterfully written and masterfully portrayed downright pathological narcissist, imbued with the excuse to wreak havoc on the world for no reason we can honestly discern, other than relishing in destruction. But it is entertaining nonetheless to see them parade and invade a Pacific Northwest (or more likely Green or Catskill Mountains,) and all of the abandoned homes they squat in.
On first glance, it appears innocuously nihilistic; a sort of boys will be boys romp and an almost generically predictable destiny chosen by alienated, or more likely intentionally disenfranchised, young men directing their virile aimlessness in a puerile manner. We can see common parallels with such deviancy of the last century; with Anarchists, Bolsheviks, and Nuevo-Jihadists. Where one might find it mildly opprobrious behavior for them to ransack unoccupied vacation homes for fine booze at an alarming rate, the film is not trying to cast judgment on the society which these two are harming. In this sense, it is amusing to witness the sheer anarchy of their efforts; it is genuinely surreal and a laudatory achievement at that to have the audience view regular society from this uncanny perspective. This is to say, there is a profoundly unique orientation of material life when viewed from the two’s lenses, of everyday items being so disposable.

 

Luckily then we do not have to hold our noses when viewing their destructiveness, nor do we need to reason anxiously when they will be caught as the film almost screams for its inevitability. Cleverly such tensions within the moments of suspended disbelief never transpire. We don’t have a concern for their general welfare or even a judgment per se on the atavism. The moment itself is enough to hold our wonder – of how long their chicanery can last is a sight to behold, especially when they bring more people into the fold.

 

The added company breathes another layer of intrigue in seeing how their collisions will take place. And once more, these are more or less disenfranchised young persons with an inclusion of a female to stir the pot. It is ceaselessly, then, a source of creative work for the young to perhaps refuse to grow up. This sense becomes very clear once the foursome is cemented; it is not that they lack the opportunity to grow, but that they live awash in such prosperity where their home intrusions will leave nary a dent on the owners, and that they have the luxury to afford to behave so uniquely. Contrast their exploits with the impoverished world, where children are undoubtedly conditioned on the basics of human survival – that one needs to work.

 

This juxtaposition then marvelously demonstrates the surreal existence of contemporary America; where, indeed, our relationship to our material possessions is in need of closer scrutiny. But not because of its excesses and therefore a condemnation is required; but rather because of how mundane these accumulations are and all of their varieties (as showcased in the film), how neglectful of gratitude the American way is. Instead of feeling complicit in ending the world through the necessary consumption of petroleum products, perhaps the characters could feel awestruck in the world they are born into; that way they would feel an urge to create a means to sustain it, rather than revel in its annihilation.

Grade: A+

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