Mankind is dealt a fatal blow in Matthew Ogens’ new film Go North. When an unknown epidemic sweeps the country, adults die out and the kids take charge. The fear of starvation, isolation, and unknown predators govern the lives of the remaining population. For a small group of survivors, every day is a series of routines and rules enforced by letter jacket wearing dictators. Classroom politics are the governing principles of life and some have it way harder than others.
Go North made me think about how Lord of the Flies is still relevant even today. A lot has changed in the las 60 years, but this movie still strikes a chord with many classic themes.Abusive and aggressive bullies prey on weaker and smaller kids while the oldest members of the community deal out justice. These are children who have been abandoned not by their parents but by nature, and they’re just trying to get by. They all need to cooperate and work together. With no energy or utilities left running, it’s necessary for them to work and stay together.
Actor Jacob Lofland plays the main character, Josh. After witnessing his younger friend banished from the group, he decides to leave and take a friend with him. Josh and Jessie played by Sophie Kennedy Clark are soon pursued by her older brother and a few of the other community leaders. As the two travel to find a better life, the pursuit heightens when the letter jackets close in. Patrick Schwarzenegger does fine work as Jessie’s concerned older brother Caleb, and overall the on-screen talent makes the familiar story interesting. Go North isn’t as overwhelmingly desolate as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but things aren’t exactly peachy for these characters.
This movie may not be the most original in terms of story and direction, but as a minimalistic take on post-apocalyptic survival it works. The performances are solid throughout the film and the core group of actors do good work building towards the final act. The last moments of the story are particularly rewarding after having seen these characters travel through such a stark and lifeless world. For fans of bleak yet powerful dramas and tales of survival against all odds, Go North is a title worth seeing. It’s a good move forward for the genre.