Action movies aren’t supposed to have ambiguous endings. Instead, everything is tied up in a neat little package. Against all odds, the good guy triumphs, there’s probably a big kiss, and the villain is dead (unless he or she is necessary for a sequel.) As tidy as such conclusions are, however, they leave a lot of questions unanswered–like, where the car is parked and what the hero and his love interest will talk about now that they’re no longer on a dangerous mission. A new short film explores these issues by picking up exactly where most adventure movies leave off.
About a minute and a half into Dylan Allen’s short film, Epilogue, a title card reading “The End” arises. But this is just the beginning for us. An Indiana Jones-ish action hero named Skillman and his distressed damsel, Veronica, just sort of stand around for a minute and figure out their next steps. Having retrieved the last glowing orb Skillman needs to do . . . whatever he’s been trying to do for the entire movie we didn’t just watch, the pair walk past a baseball team’s worth of corpses strewn around the mountain fortress they just conquered. The hero is no longer throwing tough guy lines over his shoulder like gum wrappers, though, now he wonders aloud where he left his gun.
It turns out that without the constant threat of danger and the galvanizing force of a mission, these two don’t have much in common or as much chemistry as they thought. One key moment arrives when they try unsuccessfully to sleep together, she asks him what’s the matter, and he replies, “Nothing.” He’s not saying it defensively like most men might in such a situation; he means it regretfully. When nothing is wrong for an action-adventure hero, nothing is right. Skillman can’t relax after the adventure’s over. He’s still on the job. He’s institutionalized, like Brooks in The Shawshank Redemption. He doesn’t know what to do with Veronica if he’s not saving her, despite the fact that she apparently didn’t need as much saving as he thought.
Epilogue looks and sounds great, with cinematography and an ’80s synth score that remain rather faithful to the source material. The film also abounds with fun details that playfully mock the hero’s single-minded focus. For instance, while Veronica showers and brushes her teeth and changes clothes the first chance she gets, Skillman has apparently been wearing the same clothes for weeks. He’s also prone to pulling out his gun at even the faintest of rustling noises. Ultimately, it seems the same skills that help these heroes survive their adventures makes them terrible at life.
H/t to Neatorama