Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Drama
Starring: Chris Kelly, Quinn Hunchar, Jessica Duffy, Jeremy Make
Director: Jamin Winans
Remember how nobody knew of “Pan’s Labyrinth” when it was first released (did you even know it was released at the cinema?), or how about Dark City, forgotten until much of the story was borrowed for the far bigger budget of “The Matrix?” This same scenario happened with countless others over the years; Blade Runner, Braindead, Donnie Darko, La Haine, the list goes on, and whilst this doesn’t quite match up, it is the director’s creativity that shines through. What he has succeeded in doing is nothing short of extraordinary; failed to be given even the tiniest of budgets, he began shooting from his own pocket, feeling less of a cinematographer or director as he does a storyteller, or a creator of epic works. He isn’t a Peter Jackson transcribing a book into his own setting, he’s laying the groundwork foundations for his own epic tale which doesn’t re-tread in the footsteps of any other.
My comparisons weren’t plucked from the air either, combining the often dark themes and background as found in Dark City with almost ‘del Toro-esque’ bizarre creations, utilising careful consideration of physicality, mannerisms and speech to build up a character rather than rely on the cheap ‘throw money on CGI’ choice so popular in recent years (though a limited amount is used in order to further the story, over simply using it for stylisation). Instead, the two realities depicted are filmed through different camera lenses in order to instantly differentiate the two, and the most basic of clothing changes made in conjunction with the alteration of physicality to represent the broken down remnant of the creature, caught between good and evil and stricken with paranoia that will be integral to the films development.
With a large cast, the core of four; the businessman (Kelly) and his daughter (Hunchar), as well as the storyteller Liev (Duffy) and the pathfinder Jacob (Make), performed as well as we could want from them, and notably the scenes between Hunchar and Duffy demonstrating an unusual warmth as she spins her tale so as to comfort the child, all manages to come together aptly. It is sadly the excessively large cast of characters never given more than a few lines at best that drift into the background, failed either through direction or simply time constraints to convey a realistic character.
Unraveling at a deliberately moderate pace required in order to absorb all the information that is streamed in your direction, those looking for a fast-paced action may find their attention waning as the more dramatic element kicks in. This is not a no-brainer film requiring complete absence of thought, and whilst it won’t be spoon-fed to you, all the required links and connections are made readily apparent before the films conclusion. Non-linear in its structure, great lengths have been undertaken to emphasise the differences; the alternate reality following a different timeline, filled with creatures capable of hearing the musical beat of the world around them, and a war between storytellers and incubi that collides with our reality without our realisation.
I have been very deliberate in my attempt to give away as little information as possible as the beauty of this film is the story itself, the manner it unfolds and the ideas prevalent at each turn. This isn’t a film that should be universally recommended; there are many who would scoff at the effects and cast as a result of the low budget, and the occasional loose description of places, situations, characters and themes that feel worthy of far more attention themselves (I can easily see such a film reworked to maintain my attention for twice the length, allowing more freedom to develop the characters), and yet I can’t help but be a little overwhelmed. By far and away this is one of the most creative, innovative and original offerings put to film in recent years, and I await the day he’s given the funding to back that up.