Letting Go: Go/Don’t Go (2021)-Reviewed


Letting go of a lost loved one is always difficult. It’s even harder when you’re the sole survivor of the apocalypse. At least what appears to be the apocalypse. The only certain thing about multi-hyphenate Adam Knapp’s debut, Go/Don’t Go, is that nothing is certain. 

Taking place somewhere, sometime in the future, we follow Adam (Knapp) as he navigates the post-apocalypse. In between daily routines of going out for supplies, leaving himself messages and marking houses and cars with either a green checkmark (Go) and red crosses (Don’t Go), he experiences flashbacks and visions. The flashbacks are to the “before” times and give you a little insight into a relationship with a woman named K. The visions, also of K, pop up in the peripheries, disorienting you and making you question whether he’s truly alone. 

You see, this might not be a literal apocalypse but a metaphorical apocalypse within Adam’s mind. As he navigates his neighborhoods, you’re frequently given moments of pause as to whether this is real or if he’s lost somewhere in grief. How does he have running water? What exactly are these checks and X’s supposed to denote? Who does he keep talking to onscreen? It’s all extremely, purposely unclear. 

Your mileage with this kind of film may vary, dependent upon how much you’re able to tolerate this kind of mumbling, metaphorical genre-play. It’s becoming all too common for a filmmaker to make their debut about a failed or lost relationship but to do so within the confines of horror of sci-fi. The kind of film where the “horrors” are an obvious parallel to where the couple went wrong. Adam, patrolling familiar places and checking them off as he goes, appears to be creating a roadmap of memories. “Go” being the ones he can still access, “Don’t Go”, the ones that are still raw and triggering. It can become frustrating to try to decipher what it all means but Knapp would rather you experience the journey than put it all together.  

This is what ultimately saves the whole endeavor, especially if you’re emotionally available for something so frustrating. Sometimes we aren’t meant to know the answers to what we seek. The point of letting go is doing so with the uneasy comfort that we’re not meant to know why someone left us. Grief holds onto you like a vice. It disorients you to the point of accepting an unreality. The vagueness of it all allows you to access your own “Go’s” and “Don’t Go’s” and ask yourself why the former is so easy for you and why the latter isn’t. 

Knapp is undoubtedly a talented filmmaker, more so in the direction than script, blocking his film remarkably well. As a debut, it’s an adept showcase of camera placement and framing.  These are key to that disorientation. He’s never too showy, giving your eye exactly enough to make you question whether someone is actually just out of frame or if you’re losing it like he is. He’s most compelling as the lead, however, and it’s a gamble that pays off. It’s frustrating because you wish K wasn’t relegated to being a literal specter at times, suffering from the Chris Nolan’s one (1) female syndrome. It’s a tired and uninspired creative decision but it’s masked by Knapp’s performance. Gangly, full of misplaced hope masking a debilitating rage, he’s a quiet and explosive presence all at once. When he finally reaches his breaking point and lets himself loose, it’s a beautifully cathartic moment set against a gorgeous explosion of color.

Go/Don’t Go might be yet another film a little too preoccupied with what it has to say about grief and moving on than it is with embracing the genre it thinks it’s subverting but it’s still a worthy effort. Its wavelength is such that you might just need to be in the right emotional headspace but if you can access it, it’s a moving, if flawed exercise. Alex Knapp is a talent, no two ways about it. One hopes that he can reign it all in a bit better going forward. 

-Brandon Streussnig