The survival horror drama film “Gold” marks the directorial debut of Australian actor-director Anthony Hayes. It is about two unknown men who travel towards an undisclosed location but come across an incident that changes their life completely. Though the film is set in the near future, the location or the place where the lead characters are or travel to is not mentioned in the narrative. “Gold” does fine enough if watched casually, but its glaring superficiality becomes clearer with more thoughts put into it, and its un-excitingly bare-bone plot trying to talk about the ugliness of human greed does not provide much joy either.
‘Gold’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
The film sets its place of unfolding at first, with grainy, dusty desert landscapes with barren trees, and a text on the screen calls it “some time, someplace, not far from now.” An unnamed man, played by Zac Efron (and therefore will be referred to by the actor’s name as the characters in the film remain unnamed), is seen traveling in a goods train compartment, eating away a piece of bread. At the other end of the compartment is a woman and her baby, both hungrily looking at the food. This seems to warm Efron’s heart, and he offers the rest of the bread to her before getting down at his station. The place is a run-down outpost but seemingly serves as a connection point to an area called The Compound, where Efron’s character plans to go. He asks around for a man who is supposed to drive him to the place, but the attendant at the outpost is as inhospitable as the barren desert all around. As he relieves himself in a dirty makeshift washroom, the second man, played by Anthony Hayes, arrives at the place. The two quickly set out on their journey towards The Compound, and the Hayes character seems to be opportunistic from the very beginning, as he charges extra money from the other man for gas and water. After they enter the desert and drive through barren, inhabitable landscapes, Hayes’ car breaks down with a puncture, and they have to stop. Efron helps out with the problem, as he fixes the puncture and witnesses a facet of the harsh reality of the area when a wild dog attacks and tries to kill another for food. Hayes intervenes in such a cannibalistic act and perhaps does the humane thing as he kills the injured dog, relieving it of its pains.
Soon the two are on the move again, and when they stop for rest that night, Efron discloses why he is going to The Compound. He shows his companion an advertisement pamphlet that offers a great life to those moving to The Compound. As Hayes seems to be more accustomed to the place than the other younger man, he warns Efron of the most misleading advertisements that big corporations nowadays put out to attract cheap labor. The next day they continue their drive again, but trouble strikes when the car breaks down from some sort of an engine or hydraulic failure. As the two men try to find a solution to their immediate problem, Efron suddenly discovers a chunk of shiny rock sticking out from the ground. Moving away from the loose sand covering the rock, he calls Hayes over to take a look, and their tests confirm that they have found a huge gold nugget stuck in the ground in the middle of the desert. At first, they try to get the rock out with their hands and by tying it to their car but realize that the nugget is way bigger than it actually seems. The two decide to split up as one would have to go to the nearest town to get hold of an excavator, while the other would have to stay back and protect the gold. Although Hayes initially offers to stay back, Efron insists that he would rather stay and protect their new-found treasure. Hayes finally leaves with his car, now repaired, and Efron prepares to spend the next four or five days all by himself amidst the cruel open nature.
See More: ‘Gold’ Summary & Review: A Story Of Human Greed And Grit
What Are Efron’s Experiences While Protecting The Gold Nugget?
As Hayes drives away in his car towards the nearest habitation, Efron settles down with his few little belongings, which include a bottle, a jerry can full of water, some food, and a satellite phone that Hayes gave him so that the two could maintain communication. Making a note of the exact position of the gold nugget, he covers it with dust again, and then sets up a makeshift lopsided hut for himself by tying a piece of tent cloth to a tree on one side and placing rocks on the other end. Dangers of nature soon present themselves as a scorpion crawls up near Efron’s camp, but the man does not kill it and instead tries to drive it away. He then goes to gather firewood, for it is now very well established that he would need a fire to protect himself from wild dogs after dark. During his meager meal at night, of canned and dried food, the man hears the howling dogs in the distance, hungrily waiting for their chance to somehow manage to attack him. As days go by like this, he has to ration his supplies even more tightly, and he has to make choices regarding using water for hygiene or saving it for consumption. Now having to go out some more into the distance in search of firewood, Efron comes across some crashed airplane debris and decides to scavenge metals and other supplies from it. Ripping apart metal doors and windows, he tugs them back to camp and builds himself a stronger, more solid hut. With diminishing supplies and also because of having to spend hours all by himself, Efron breaks a smaller gold chunk from the nugget, but does not intend to keep it all for himself, as one would possibly think in such a situation. Instead, when Hayes calls him soon after to inform him of his position, Efron shares the news with him and suggests that they should go away with whatever little they can take, but the second man dismisses such a thought. That night, he has to take a walk through the abysmal darkness with only a stick lit on fire to protect himself, and he inevitably gets attacked by a group of wild dogs. However, he is saved just in time when a loud gunshot from somewhere nearby scatters the dogs away.
The next morning, Efron tries to kill a snake for food but fails to match up with its slithery movements and continues on with a hungry body. In the afternoon, he goes over to the plane crash site again and, this time, spots a human figure coming toward him. He attempts to hide in the plane unsuccessfully and ultimately has to come out to face the stranger. This person, a woman dressed and armed appropriately for the desert, is a scavenger who goes around looting whatever and whoever she can and survives with it. She pesters Efron for a long time, trying to find out who he is and what he is doing alone in the middle of nowhere. When the man does not give any certain replies and just tries to avoid the conversation, the woman follows him back to his camp and tries to destroy his hut. When stopped, she tries to establish Efron as an outsider who is unfairly trying to take away resources from natives of the place like her, and then grows aggressive. Possibly in an attempt to protect himself, Efron strikes the woman with a shovel and, perhaps unwillingly, kills her. Taking away whatever he could find on her, he digs up a hole and buries her body in it, but soon sees the hungry wild dogs dig it up and try to eat it. He quickly gathers some more wood and burns up the body, for he does not want to disrespect her by feeding her remains to the dogs. The next day, he receives a call on the satellite phone from Hayes, who says that he is now bringing the excavator back to the place and promises to reach it within two or three days. Efron notices a local vehicle passing by and once thinks of asking for help and running away from his situation, but his greed, and also perhaps a sense that “the situation is equally bad everywhere else,” holds him back. Soon, a major sandstorm hits the place, and the man gets terribly injured when a flying tree branch impales his belly. After the storm has completely changed the look of the sandy desert, Efron crawls around with great pain and manages to find the gold nugget after a lot of effort. He also struggles to treat his wound and then falls into a hallucinatory trance and thinks that he imagines the woman he had earlier killed is now alive again. However, soon it is revealed that there is actually a second woman who looks exactly like the first, and she asks Efron if he has seen her sister, suggesting that they were twins. When the man denies seeing anyone, the woman offers to help him walk him to the nearest water source and settlement, but Efron insists on being left alone. As he seems to pass out and wake up again, he sees himself amidst a circle of small fires, definitely lit by the woman, as a group of dogs already move towards him, realizing that the man is about to die soon. As the fires grow weaker and the dogs’ collective will and courage stronger, they start to attack Efron one by one, tearing into his flesh and finally dragging him away and biting him to death.
It is foolishly simple to understand that “Gold” is a tale of human greed and distrust of each other. The world that has been painted as the backdrop, with all the dystopian future trademarks, is one that heavily stresses the lack of humaneness in this future. Zac Efron’s character is very visibly an exception in this world. He offers his bread to a hungry mother and child instead of keeping it for himself to have some time later. He offers to stay back and protect the gold nugget while Anthony Hayes’ character goes to fetch the excavator. While it might seem that Efron wants to stay back because he suspects that Hayes would somehow run away with the gold if he is left behind, this seems unlikely of Efron’s character when he is seen reporting everything truthfully to his companion. After he breaks away the big chunk of gold, he does not hide it away inside his possession but instead tells Hayes of it on the phone. Efron also does not want to show any disrespect towards the scavenger woman character, and he puts in extra effort to see to it that she is given a proper farewell. “Gold” is tremendously superficial despite seeming like a very mature thought, and therefore, the revelations that follow after Efron’s death are not surprising at all but rather very predictable.
‘Gold’ Ending Explained: Who Finally Gets To Keep The Enormous Gold Nugget?
As Efron is pulled and eaten away by the vicious pack of feral dogs, Anthony Hayes’ character is finally seen some distance away from Efron’s camp. Hayes seems to have made a camp of his own, where he seems to have been staying at least for two or three days, with his car and an excavator readily waiting beside him. He looks through a pair of binoculars at the final fate of Efron as he is killed by the forces of nature, and it becomes clear as day that Hayes was actually waiting for his partner to die so that he could take and keep all the gold for himself. After Efron is finally dead, Hayes drives up to the place and steps out to check the area. He spots the gold nugget and returns to his car to get something. As he returns, an arrow pierces straight into his chest, and the man instantly falls dead on the ground. ‘Gold’ cuts to black here, and the credits roll. It is again very obvious that it is the twin sister scavenger woman who has killed Hayes, for she was seen with a crossbow earlier. It is evident that after going away from Efron, she too had been hiding atop some nearby hill, waiting for the man to die so that she could scavenge his items. It also seems that she had lit those small fires around Efron to protect him from the dogs in order to understand what he was doing in the desert, and not really to protect him. “Gold’s message is about a cut-throat competitive world where human nature and virtues have gone to a toss for personal greed. While it is unclear whether anyone actually gets the gold nugget by the end, it is almost certain that the woman will return to the place to check on her kills. If this happens, then she will be the one to find the gold nugget with an excavator lying ready to pull it out of the ground. She might even drive away with that big chunk of gold into a new life as a corporate boss inside the Conclave. Who knows? In my honest opinion, none of this is worth giving a thought to.