Embers (2015)


Since I didn’t have much going on for Christmas plans, I decided to watch another movie for here. I started to keep track around February on Letterboxd how many movies I have watched all time and for the year. I started a month late, but I’m now one film away from watching 100 on the year. Considering that I wasn’t watching much the first half of the year, I’m a little surprised I will make it to 100 watched. Anyway, I was going to watch a different movie for this review, but Netflix didn’t give a runtime for Embers. Being the curious type, I looked it up on IMDb and I figured if I was going to go that far, I might as well go ahead and watch it. This is another movie off my “best of” list that wasn’t actually released in 2016. Maybe it is just me, but when I think of the best films from a year, I tend to pick films that were released during that year.

An infection has spread across the Earth that causes people to lose their memories. It seems to affect some people more slowly than others, but most people are still having trouble remembering most things. Nine years after the first signs of infection, two people wake up next to each other. The guy (Jason Ritter) and girl (Iva Gocheva) don’t remember each other, but they each wear a makeshift bracelet so they feel that they know each other and made the bracelets so they would know that. Another man (Tucker Smallwood) was a teacher who has some published work about memory is trying to figure out how to improve his own memory. Chaos (Karl Glusman) goes around destroying things. And a father (Roberto Cots) and he teen daughter Miranda (Greta Fernández) are holed up in a bunker and have managed to not be infected. Miranda wants out of the bunker, as she is feeling bored with her life, while her father wants to hang on to who they are.

Embers is co-produced by the USA and Poland. It was written by Charles Spano and Claire Carré, who also directed. Embers is a strange film in that there is no real plot going on. It is happy to simply explore what society would be like if everyone couldn’t remember pretty much anything. Carré gives us a bleak world where everything is run-down. We don’t see many people at all despite most of the characters roaming what was once a city. It is an interesting idea to explore. The fact that everything looks run-down didn’t surprise me. As people lose their memories, things would begin to break down as no one would remember how to fix them. The characters that we follow most seem fine with just wandering around, not staying in one place much. The teacher is the only one out in the world that seems content with staying in one place, but then his memory doesn’t seem to have taken a hit as much but is getting worse. All that we get with Embers is following the different characters around over a two day period. That is pretty much it. The character rarely crosses each others path. The only time this happens is when a young boy, played by Silvan Friedman, manages to wander into the woods where the teacher lives.

The whole memory loss was a little confusing to me. While most of the characters couldn’t remember their own names or anything else about them, they seemed to be able to talk just fine and come up with names to call each other. It was also interesting that some could retain information a little better than others. Some of the things that happen were a little easy to predict, like when the girl gets hurt and the guy runs off to get water to clean the wound. I figured what would happen from there. It helped that the girl was also worried about getting lost once they wandered from where they were staying when they woke up. There is talk of a twist at the end of Embers, but I’m not sure what that twist would be. Fans talk about the twist being that repetitive actions help with memory, which I thought was common knowledge.

Nothing as far as effects go. The girl steps on a nail and we see her bloody foot. That is it as far as anything kind of effect if you want to call that an effect. I’m pretty sure that Embers was filmed in Poland which I think is what helped with the run-down look of everything. The acting was okay. Ritter and Gocheva have a pretty good chemistry going despite not being able to remember who they are or each other. Dominique Swain, there is a name I haven’t heard in a long time, plays a small part of a woman that the young boy happens across at one point. Matthew Goulish rounds out the main cast with the small role of a guy who is stuck on the idea of time that the young boy also comes across.

Embers choose not to give much a timeline or bothers to explain what happened prior to when we are introduced to the story. We learn from Miranda and her father a little bit about what happened. They don’t mention what started the infection, only that it spread quickly, much quicker than was expected it seems. We also learn from Miranda, while a computer checks her memory, that she has been in the bunker for nearly ten years. For me, that opened up a lot of questions that are never touched on. I’m not sure why Embers was included on a list of best horror films, as this is clearly more a sci-fi film than anything else. I know it would be horrible to forget everything about yourself, but I don’t think that is what most people would consider a horror film. I didn’t find Embers to be a bad film really, but it wasn’t all that interesting to me. I got through the film just fine, but it felt lacking really. I seem to be in the minority with this though, as there are a lot of reviews from people who loved it. If any of you give it a chance, I do hope you enjoy it more than I did.

2 out of 5 What was I writing about?

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Vale: This definitely sounds more sci-fi than horror. Is there any sort of solution at the end? How did this make the best of list?
  • mermaidheather: Nope, no solution but I don’t think that is what the film wanted to explore at all. It just seeing how different people are reacting to what has happened over time to their memories. I don’t know how it made a best of for a horror list, but it did.
  • Vale: It seems like a strange topic. Eventually wouldn’t people just forget that they forgot everything? Like the old presumption that goldfish had a 2-second memory?

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