Main Cast: Tomas Vergara

Director: Tomas Vergara

I will assume the assignment here had been “make a movie that shows the beginning of a zombie apocalypse only don’t use zombies, don’t explain anything, also don’t have a beginning, middle, and end, and for God’s sake ask one question you are never going to answer.”

That had to have been the prompt that resulted in 2015’s ISOLATED, written by Manuel and Tomas Vergara and directed by Tomas (who also provides the voice of the main character, known simply as “Taxista”).

ISOLATED is a 5-minute and 34-second computer animated short I watched recently on the Alter YouTube channel and while I was super impressed with the visuals and what animators are able to accomplish these days, the story left me scratching my head and saying, “Um … okay.”

What we see is very simple.  A taxi driver wakes up from a crash just in time to see a truck driver be swarmed by zombies.  He panics, falls out of his wrecked taxi, and hides inside an empty restaurant where he discovers nearly a dozen zombified people hiding in the basement.  They chase him up the stairs, and as soon as he gets outside, he stops and stares up at a helicopter just as all the living dead run out of the restaurant, past him without attacking, and that’s when he remembers he was bitten on the arm.

Then we flash back to just before the wreck when our hero is crumpling up a losing lottery ticket as a frantic man jumps in the cab and, pointing a gun at the driver, tells him to take him to a specific location and that they haven’t much time.

The white-coated passenger starts to freak out—and since this isn’t our first zombie movie, we know what’s happening—bites the driver on the arm, then quickly writes something on the back of the lottery ticket and gives it to the driver.  This causes the driver to slam on the brakes—in the middle of an intersection—which then causes the truck to slam into him and we’re right back at the beginning of the film.

The driver looks up at the helicopter as the cops inside it start firing on the zombies, takes out the lottery ticket and sees what’s written on the back—without bothering to show the audience, mind you—and then we cut to credits.


That had to have been a very important piece of information there and the filmmaker just said hey f*ck y’all, we’re not telling.

And THAT makes me knock ISOLATED down quite a bit in my ranking because up to that point I was ready to give it a pretty good score.

I mean, for a film with almost no dialogue—we don’t hear any until the flashback scene—the storytelling to get us to that point was pretty damn good.  The action was exciting, the situation one that would definitely give a viewer the creeps, and I was invested from the start in the survival of this taxi driver.  And they pull this non-ending crap on us and send us home with the worst case of theatrical blue balls ever!

Well, maybe not EVER.  I mean it’s only a 5 ½ minute animated short.  But in that 5 ½ minutes, I wanted this guy to live, I wanted to see more of the world, and I don’t even like zombie movies in general.

The Vergaras made the start of an excellent zombie movie.  They just didn’t know how to end it in a way that was the least bit satisfying.  But it goes beyond that.  That ending wasn’t just unsatisfying, it was almost downright mean.  If I were to recommend this short at all it would only be based on the action and the animation.  The STORY?  Nah, it’s barely there.  I mean, we see a glimmer of a decent idea, albeit nothing all that original (you could see a similar scene in half a dozen random zombie movies), but this is all pre-opening credits stuff; we haven’t even got to the meat of the plot yet, but the Vergaras snatched it away from us at the last second.

So if you want a movie that’s barely a story, that’s more a resume for some great animation (uncredited), then sure.  If you want a film, however short, that has a STORY, skip this one.

Either way, if you want, you can view ISOLATED on YouTube.

More from Alter

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