Cora (2023)

Rating: B-

Dir: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund
Star: Felicia Rylander, Andreas Rylander, Thomas Lennon, Caroline Mathiasen

Humanity is teetering on the edge of oblivion, after a mysterious toxic mist has enveloped the globe. It kills anyone who inhales it, in just a few seconds. Survivors are few, but Cora (Rylander) is one of them. She’s a researcher for the Upper Sky company, living alone in her remote bunker, collecting and analyzing data in the hope of finding something that can neutralize the mist. Her only companion is an AI assistant, and she survives on crates dropped off by company drones. Until one day, that is, when the computer network goes down. She ventures into the outside world, heading for another research base she knows is nearby. Except when she arrives at his outpost, she finds its occupant has killed himself. 

Turns out the company had shut down the project several years ago – Cora just hadn’t got the memo – with the supplies arriving on autopilot. Robbed of her sole purpose, she is left to wander the wilderness, fending off the other remnants of mankind. She is saved from death by another woman. She bears a strange resemblance to Cora, and is on a mission to find Upper Sky’s headquarters, and get answers from those in charge. Despite qualms resulting from an increasingly obvious tendency for shooting first, Cora agrees to accompany this new “friend” on her quest. Together they seek the truth about the situation in which they finds themselves – as well as Upper Sky’s part in things, perhaps.

This is something of an improvement on the pair of directors previous work, Wither and We are Monsters. It does a good job of crafting its post-apocalyptic world, although I must confess, I found the “mist” filter applied to every outdoor scene (top), more irritating than atmospheric before the end. Rather too much peering into the gloom for me. Otherwise though, the early stages are particularly effective at depicting the crushing loneliness of Cora’s existence, which has apparently been ongoing for several years. There is a lot of weight on Rylander’s shoulders, since the actress is in about 130% of the film’s scenes [not a misprint, but I’m not going to explain myself either]. She does a good job, and you should find yourself caring about her fate. 

It does become less successful in the later stages. Instead of original ideas, this trots out a few too many of the usual post-apocalyptic tropes, such as the traditional concept that the external threat may be less of a problem, than other members of the human race. The film doesn’t hold back on the violence, most notably one point where somebody flat-out explodes on being shot, for a reason still unclear after a second viewing. Lennon and Michael ParĂ© literally phone their roles in, though to credible purpose, and the way the movie finishes… well, let’s just say I do have questions. It does perhaps explain the tagline on the poster: “In the end, nothing will matter.”