The dark and acerbic new comedy called It's a Disaster may seem like a strange film to be reviewing at a horror site, but after watching the film and deciding it felt like a bizarre mixture of The Last Supper (1996) and Right at Your Door (2007), we felt it was more than suitable for FEARnet readers. The specter of death does hover over this odd comedy of apocalyptic manners, which means it qualifies as horror "enough," but also... I just really liked It's a Disaster and the boss said, "Sure, review it but play up the 'end of the world' angle a bit."Yes, that's right. It's a Disaster is an acidic farce about a Sunday brunch that's promptly interrupted by news of a nearby nuclear attack -- which means that a socially-awkward get-together is about to become the last meal this collection of four couples will ever eat. I leave the introductions to the actors and filmmakers, but the viewer is presented an easy way to keep up: the day's activities are shown through the perspective of Glenn (David Cross) and Tracy (Julia Stiles), which works because they're the cast members we know best, and also because they're a "new" couple, so Stiles makes the introductions and Cross gets to be the proxy for the viewer.
After a first act that's filled with amusing character stuff from a very strong ensemble, the plot kicks in: yes, a "dirty bomb" has been detonated in a nearby city, and this group of brunch-time arguers learns that they only have a few hours to live before the fallout cloud hits their location. But is the threat real? And who did it? And what the heck IS a "dirty bomb" anyway? Writer/director Todd Berger seems to be having a good time skewering some of flaws and foibles of these people, and once things start to get a little serious he also has some insightful points to make about how, in the grand scheme of things, we really shouldn't sweat the small stuff -- and when you only have a few hours to live, the "small stuff" becomes almost painfully evident.
In addition to David Cross (who could be funny at a funeral) and the adorable Julia Stiles (who continues to display some strong comedy skill), the cast is aces across the board. Standouts include the goofy and beautiful Rachel Boston, Erinn Hayes as the fastidious brunch hostess with some skeletons in her closet, Jeff Grace as an eBay geek stuck to his phone, and America Ferrara as a nurse who starts out as the voice of reason but slowly comes unglued as the angel of death draws nearer. And fine, I'll include the whole cast: Blaise Miller and Kevin Brennan are both great as two very different husbands.
But It's a Disaster isn't a preachy or saccharine affair. It's humor comes from a real place, despite the dark premise his movie. And while It's a Disaster definitely has some actual suspense and numerous moments of pitch black coldness, it's actually a strangely sweet reminder that we should be a little kinder, learn to appreciate the smaller things in life, and never waste a good Sunday on a brunch with people you barely even like because it could be your last day on the planet.