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Review by Rich Cline |
dir Isaac Ezban
scr Scott Blaszak
prd Garrick Dion, Matthias Mellinghaus
with Aml Ameen, Martin Wallstrom, Georgia King, Mark O'Brien, Alyssa Diaz, Josh Blacker, Chad Krowchuk, Carrie Genzel, Bill Dow, Michael Kopsa, Kathleen Quinlan, David Harewood
release UK Nov.18 frf,
Is it streaming?
Enjoyably trashy, this bonkers sci-fi thriller has a high-concept central gimmick. Mexican director Isaac Ezban has fun ramping up genre elements with visual trickery and nutty sound effects, while Scott Blaszak's script remains grounded in lively characters, So it's entertaining even as the story becomes increasingly mind-bending. There isn't much more to it than the usual cautionary tale of hubris, but it's good fun, and sometimes genuinely chilling too.
In Seattle, Devin (Ameen) is sharing a spooky house with fellow app designers Noel, Leena and Josh (Wallstrom, King and O'Brien). One day they discover a secret part of the house with a mirror portal into parallel realities that are all slightly different. So they start exploring, spying on other versions of themselves while mapping inter-connections. They also use it to finish their app and make a pile of cash. A bit too late, they read the journal by Marissa (Quinlan), who used the portal to find a world in which her husband wasn't dead.
It's cool that the main differences between universes is in the arts, which extends to whizzy technological innovations. Noel and Leena exploit this to their own advantage, while Josh uses the portal to get girls. Meanwhile, Devin quest is more personal, seeking a timeline where his father (Harewood) hasn't killed himself. And it quickly becomes clear that they're playing with fire. Ezban shifts lighting and deploys dizzying camera angles to signpost where they are. Still, the characters and their plot threads become tangled in knots as they mess with reality.
The four central characters take distinct approaches to this phenomenon. Ameen gives the nervous Devin a likeable intensity. Wallstrom finds sharp edges in the ruthlessly ambitious Noel. King makes the designer Leena intriguingly observant as she spins this into artistic success. O'Brien's Josh is more laid back, seeking more immediate thrills. Each of them gets to mine for darker emotional layers that make them increasingly likeable, even when they do something terrible.
Each of the four takes a distinct journey that leads to his or her own god complex. While the premise is complex, the movie itself is fairly simplistic, falling back on interpersonal melodrama rather than thematic depth. Trying to keep things straight is enjoyable, although it's perhaps a better idea to stop straining and just go with the flow. And things do get deliciously messy, leading to the kind of marvellously grisly climax that could make this a cult classic. There's even a corny coda to cement the deal.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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