Salem Horror Fest 2023: No More Time is a Surreal Pandemic Nightmare

Image Courtesy of Dalila Droege/No More Time film

At various times throughout the pandemic, it was relatively easy to see just how unbelievable the situation the world was facing was. It’s hard to believe that lockdown, masks, distance, mood swings, and mental breaks were all just a tiny part of the last two years. Add in the summertime Black Lives Matter protests and the misinformation campaigns involving the Covid virus and its vaccine. It’s hard to believe it’s all fixed to a microcosm of time, and that’s probably why filmmakers continually surprise us with new renditions of this collective communal event. Writer-director Dalila Droege’s No More Time is a surprising entry into the genre, confabulating multiple pandemic elements into an effectual bubble of psychological nightmares. 

The poster for no more time shows a reflective tree line and

No More Time concerns Steve (Mark Reeb) and Hilaire (Jennifer Harlow), a couple frantically looking to relocate to a remote Coloradoan mountain town in an attempt to outrun a disease that turns people into either vitriol-spewing, violent murderers or makes them disappear altogether, leaving behind nothing but a pile of clothing. Raiding nearby houses for supplies, the two want to stay secluded from the rest of the world and wait out the epidemic that has befallen humanity. All begins well at first, but as they try to remain isolated, they continually have run-ins with the locals, most of whom become detrimental to their anonymity and health. 

Combining isolative elements with the frustrations of marriage, Droege pushes the couple’s relationship into the foreground. At first, she treats their newly relocated designation as a pseudo-vacation and poises the couple with a healthy sexual chemistry. However, after Hilaire gets attacked by an infected man outside of a house she’s pilfering, Steve begins worrying about her foraging alone and forces Hilaire to stay at the house, causing her mind to unravel. Steve eventually starts finding Hilaire roaming the nearby woods without any idea of how she’d gotten there. Then, pressure begins straining their marriage, especially as the town becomes more aware of their presence and Steve reveals underlying toxic traits. 

Compared to Covid, No More Time’s infection seems much more deadly, causing people to bleed from the orifices in their faces, yet the same political divide seems to exist as it still does about Covid-19. The idea of history repeating is not only fathomable but, even in the face of something far more deadly, feels entirely valid. Perhaps Covid didn’t occur in this universe, yet the response to both diseases is about the same as the public’s response in 1918 when asked to quarantine, especially when it came to wearing masks.  

Noah walks through the forest, a lens flair shines into the camera in NO MORE TIME
Image Courtesy of Dalila Droege/No More Time film

Though it isn’t exactly Covid that the couple is up against, Droege uses the last few years as fuel for her fictionalized virus, encapsulating the entire period into eighty-two tension-filled minutes. The vibrancy of the cast helps round out the town and drive home the outside factors of the pandemic era. Noah (TV on the Radio frontman and She Dies Tomorrow actor Tunde Adebimpe), a local masked-up Black man, attempts to stay out of the local chatter by keeping his distance on walks through town and the countryside. Meanwhile, a conspiracy theory-spouting talk show host (Supernatural’s Jim Beaver) gushes his “truth” over the radio waves and begins amassing a following as a voice for those changed by the disease and helps embolden mask-hating, pickup-driving antagonist, Chuck (Fatal Attraction series star David Sullivan). And a local Native American man (Tuck) better understands what’s happening through his deeper bond and reverence for nature.  

All of this amounts to a stirring portrait of anxieties and fear regarding the last few years—the viral chaos, the racism, and the return to nature all mix into one condensed experience. Nature has a particularly interesting part to play within No More Time, both monstrous and therapeutic. Moments in the trailer of eyes blinking on trees and alluding to shapeshifting sheep give the film a weird magnetism. It’s an imaginative and creative way of blending the stir-crazy isolation of indoor lockdown with the concept of nature healing itself through a provocative, surreal lens.  

Steve walks through a field at night, smoke billows in the distance in NO MORE TIME
Image Courtesy of Dalila Droege/No More Time film

With beautiful cinematography and terrific acting by a very talented ensemble, No More Time is a gripping, contemplative apocalyptic thriller reminiscent of movies like These Final Hours, The Trigger Effect, or The Divide, which highlight the highs and lows of human nature rather than the actual world-changing event. There are scenes of bloodshed and violence for the horror fans who require that, but the social commentary is where the film frightens and captivates the most. No More Time becomes an uncomfortable experience whenever multiple characters interact and a serene, spiritually moving film whenever nature is engaged. It’s almost hard to believe anything like this could actually occur, yet we all lived (and continue to live) through it. 

On the post-Covid side of pandemic filmmaking, one truly haunting aspect of writer-director Dalila Droege’s feature is how people simply disappear. There’s a bit more to that context in the movie, but it simultaneously plays on the human ability to quickly forget. Those early days of the pandemic were really concerning, and people were succumbing to the virus by the thousands per day. To date, more than a million deaths caused by Covid-19 exist in the United States alone. To that extent, No More Time fits in well with Andy Mitton’s The Harbinger, another pandemic film with a similar message asking us to remember those we’ve lost.  

Generationally speaking, I believe films such as No More Time will be important for people to understand this strange time in history. The film is bizarre, transfixing, and hypnotic, just like the times we live in now. 

No More Time played as a part of Salem Horror Fest on April 22. The film is currently touring the festival circuit. 

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Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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