Stars: Eric Loren, Tom Sangster and Marshall Griffin
|This film was an official selection at the 7th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2011. Here's an index to my reviews of 2011 films.|
The soldier survives, apparently intact except for his memory. As he walks out of the mist on the surface, he narrates to us how he can't remember anything from before the crash: not his name, not his rank, not his reason for being there. He doesn't even know what the IPMC on his insignia stands for. He appears to be lucid now, with one driving thought that comes out of the haze: get to zone four. So off he goes, as a soldier is trained to do his duty, after all, whatever the circumstances. He discovers that he's not alone when he leaps into a foxhole to avoid some hover-tanks out on patrol, but the soldier there dressed in a similar uniform is a corpse with no face. He keeps on towards the destroyed city in the distance, whose roadsigns and construction appear very Earthlike, if the heavenly bodies in the sky tell us otherwise. He tracks down other soldiers, but the only one on his side is quickly killed by men from the other. An IPMC cylinder lands in the street, so he takes down a sniper nest and heads over to see what's in it.
And, after finding that it's a trap, he's shot dead by a laser installation that emerges from the ground. So much for our sole protagonist. But then, we start again. He wakes up out in the desert and heads back to town. 'It's a stuck record,' he narrates, 'and I don't think I like the groove.' If we weren't paying attention to all the weirdness that was going down before, we can't fail to do so now. He'd watched as the soldier was killed, but a blink later they were all gone. One of the enemies, who dies in front of him, apparently can't remember anything before the crash either, and he has a great line of dialogue, albeit one hijacked from RoboCop. 'I killed you,' he says. There are a few ways that this can go, as déjà vu shows up and the soldier questions his environment and his connection to it, but I was with the right one all the way. After a fresh viewing, that may well be because I once wrote a short story that had major similarities to where it takes us after the initial twist is revealed. If so, this may play a little more surprising for you.
Given the strong visual aesthetic, which is consistently fantastic for a film which runs a short 27 minutes, it's not surprising to discover Caldow's background. He debuted here as a writer, producer and director, possibly as a composer too, but he has a major history in cinematic art, whether that be storyboarding, creature design or concept illustration. He started as a draughtsman on Tim Burton's Batman, and is still in the business, with films as prominent as Gravity, Prometheus and X-Men: First Class on his resume, as well as Game of Thrones for television. With such a visual background, I was more surprised to find that his script stands up well within the world he creates here. The only thing missing is population, as more enemies would have made a lot of sense. Maybe Marshall Griffin could only bring life to so many of the Bluehawk Horde within the shooting schedule, but extras are easy to come by. At the end of the day, it's a well rounded piece from a man who really should find time to make another short film of his own.
SNAFU can be watched online for free at Vimeo.