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We’re All Gonna Die review: Sci-fi road trip comedy

Two characters look at each other sitting outdoors by a table in the film We're All Gonna Die

We’re All Gonna Die is dedicated to comedy, which distracts from a potentially mind-boggling sci-fi concept, but it has enough charm to be a worthwhile watch.

What happens when an alien tentacle appears in the sky and causes people to be spontaneously teleported across the world? Apparently, business as usual. In We’re All Gonna Die, the “Spike” has been causing these random “jumps” for twelve years. Thalia (Ashly Birch) is a beekeeper who crosses paths with Kai (Jordan Rodrigues), a grieving wanderer. When they are caught in a jump, they must travel halfway across the country to find their way back home together. It is a genuinely funny and heartfelt story. While it has a good balance between depth and comedy, it underdelivers on a potentially unique sci-fi concept.

The indie film sets up its concept well, but is quickly distracted by a need to develop its central characters. With subtle hints at both Thalia and Kai’s pasts, it divulges their lives gradually. As they become closer—overcoming awkward and often funny scenarios together—they learn that their lives are vastly different, but they share commonalities. As a central plot point, We’re All Gonna Die surmises what the world would be like if an apocalyptic event occurred, but you still had to keep your day job. Thalia and Kai grieve (or avoid grieving) the loss of people they loved; as the film progresses, this becomes a tie that binds them together. Yet the comedic aspects of the first act are a bit heavy-handed and fall into comedy tropes, so even their deepest moments feel a bit superficial.

We’re All Gonna Die is a sci-fi film at random times, but it focuses more on being a road trip comedy. Its unique alien depiction is well done. It does not rely heavily on visual effects, but places its threat in the background of beautiful landscapes as Thalia and Kai learn to tolerate each other. Unfortunately, it’s at its best when the Spike is merely causing trouble from afar. In the third act, it becomes an integral, but quite underdeveloped, part of the story. The writers (Matthew Arnold, Will Campos, and Beth May) crafted funny and moving characters, but left the Spike’s conceptualization on the backburner. Its purpose in the plot appeared almost as inexplicably as when it invaded earth in the film.

A woman crouches on the ground while a man faces the other way standing up, facing the mountains in a field in the film We're All Gonna Die
We’re All Gonna Die (SXSW 2024)

Nearly every somber moment is balanced with comedy between Thalia and Kai. Rodrigues and Birch both give great performances throughout the film. They have decent chemistry together and when tension comes in the film’s climax, viewers will be cheering for them to succeed. Thalia’s character development in particular is strong: she faces the looming dread of living in the earth’s last days, but learns to find peace in memories and people that make life worth living. Kai’s development is not as poignant as his counterpart’s, but it is emotional and meaningful, gracefully avoiding the stereotypical “dumb guy in comedy movie” trope.

We’re All Gonna Die is a funny movie with a flair for romance. Its dedication to humor between the main characters distracts from the possibility of a developed and mind-boggling sci-fi concept, but it still has enough heart and charm to be a worthwhile watch.

We’re All Gonna Die was screened at SXSW on March 10-13, 2024. Read our SXSW reviews and our list of films to watch at SXSW 2024!

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