The End of the World Came and Went, But Training for the Apocalypse Never Ends
The Mayan end-of-days' days passed without the world ending, but you suspect that won't stop the subjects of Rob VanAlkemade's gripping (and surefire) new documentary from preparing for what they believe to be the inevitable.
Training for the Apocalypse, which premiered on NatGeo last spring and is now out on video, profiles different survivalists who figure it is just a matter of days before most of the human race goes "pfft."
There's an exiled Mormon prophet who saw Barack Obama's 2008 presidential election as the ultimate sign the world is ending, calling it an "Obamination" to have a black man in the White House. Other than the help, presumably.
One of the Park City, Utah-area prophet's estranged followers is a laundry detergent-deficient fellow shown teaching his young children how to use firearms. There's nothing wrong with that, but seeing the kids facing rifles pointed at them on a bed and, in the case of the chap's oldest boy, being berated by the patriarch for missing targets is disturbing--especially in light of recent mass shootings.
The lens is also turned on a Provo, Utah, fellow who, after nearly dying in a motorcycle accident, sold his business and real estate in favor of starting a utopia in the middle of nowhere for survivors of the world's end. A now grown guy raised terribly in Philadelphia, PA, had been prepared to enter his bunker alone with his family--until an LSD trip created a feeling of wanting to help his neighbors survive, too.
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The least attention--deservedly so, because he's boring--is given to an anonymous Los Angeles "badass" who proudly displays his arsenal while wearing a mask and having his voice electronically altered ala a 60 Minutes whistleblower.
VanAlkemade, who directed the 2007, Morgan Spurlock-produced documentary What Would Jesus Buy? and 11 episodes of the reality TV show Dog the Bounty Hunter, has a knack for capturing the closely guarded with their guards down. But even more impressive is his editing and use of music, which gives his film a breezy feel--no small trick when one is presenting overlapping stories.
Here's the trailer:
You never get the idea that VanAlkemade is shocking you for shock's sake. His subjects matter-of-factly do that one their own. I, for one, was left feeling I should be training for dealing with humanity-hating knuckleheads.
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