Stars: Rob Ryan, Tennyson D'Onofrio, Cameron White, Jordy Wiens and Travis Fowler
|This film was an official selection at the 10th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.|
We're in the future where civilisation has been mostly destroyed by what the synopsis calls a 'biological pandemic' and the Horizon Corporation is 'spearheading the global rebuild.' Malnourished survivors are eager for the help of an organisation with means and a host of them are queuing up to be checked over as the film begins, even though those confirmed to be infected are immediately disposed of in decisive fashion. The flamethrowers surely aren't just for their belongings. Of course, our protagonist appears to be special, or he wouldn't be our protagonist; there's something going on inside his body that is of note to the company and we watch him collected, disinfected, injected, clothed and shipped on out to Horizon City, 'a community for survivors' where 'the future is safe.' This section is the setup for the setup, so it's a decent length and would fit much better as the introduction to a feature than as half of a short film; from the perspective of a short film, it runs far too long and steals running time from where things will go.
Forcing myself to see what's actually in this film and not what would follow it in an imaginary feature, I'm impressed with what was accomplished. That's partly because it transforms a post-apocalyptic story into a dystopian future with an ambiguous corporate hero/villain and a single child who might just save us all, thus scoring highly at sci-fi concept bingo, but partly because of how it came together. This isn't merely a short film, it's also a hands on course in filmmaking. Director Scott Belyea and cinematographer Scooter Corkle teach the Youth Filmmaking Challenge at the Reel Shorts Festival in Grande Prairie, Alberta. This is an extension of that program, taking novices on location with a half dozen experienced professionals and all the equipment they need, to learn by immersion over a fortnight as they make a short film, this one. I have respect both for the goals of that project and what they achieved. Maybe the next year's class will shoot the next third of the story. It'll be interesting to see what the future will bring.