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DVD Review

DVD cover

It Lives
(aka Twenty-Twenty Four)


Starring: Andrew Kinsler and Peter McCrohon
Distributor: Second Sight
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: TBC
Release Date: 30 July 2018

Roy is a scientist/engineer and the sole occupant of an advanced nuclear shelter known as Plethura. He is preparing and running the systems for the possible eventuality of war. A 3D communication link tells him that talks have failed and there is no hope. He will be returned to the surface to be replaced by those chosen for the shelter. Obviously, he is scared, but when no one arrives he can only assume everyone has died. After a long period of solitude though Roy begins to question the reality as he perceives it. Is everything as it seems? Or is he being tested. Can Arthur, the text only computer intelligence be trusted? And what terrifying figure stalks the corridors of the shelter...?

You might have come across my opinion in previous reviews that a film written and directed (and in this case, produced, too) by the same individual can be a recipe for disaster or, alternatively, a breath of fresh air and originality – as with John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Victor Salva and others. Many mainstream viewers are going to hate this film because they’ll say there’s very little action, and it’s a lot about nothing. Those people are going to be seriously missing the point. One of the best things a filmmaker can do when confronted with a low budget and very little resources is create a hotspot of total immersive isolation. How more alone can someone be when everyone above ground is considered to be dead or dying? Or are they?

To achieve this it’s necessary to have a reference point; something by which you get a little outside information – even if it may be misinformation. Here we have Arthur, a computer intelligence, but rather than a humanoid android – a presence which could be related to on a personal level – all we get is a screen upon which text appears. There isn’t even an automated voice. In my book this is very clever, because it supplies Roy with required engineering repairs, but also an outlet for his feelings as events progress (or regress, if you like). The A.I. reasons with him over potentially foolhardy actions but also asks the Facebook question, ‘What’s on your mind?’ This limited interaction ratchets up the pressure, as reasoning and paranoia become a fine line.

This brings me to the genre. To all intents and purposes It Lives is promoted as science fiction, when it’s quite clearly a psychological thriller or even outright horror. With very little information to assess any given situation, Roy is left to speculate on what is happening above ground and how this reflects on him. He has taken everything previously at face value, but then begins to question everything in his own perception. Is the world above really hazardous? What would happen if he forced his way outside? Why are there increasingly more engineering faults? Who or what is the frightening figure he keeps glimpsing and running from? In fact, although I guessed the answer to this last question immediately, I could appreciate the trigger point to dramatic realisation, and it took nothing away from the film’s overall impact.

One of the main realities Roy begins to question is the integrity, or otherwise, of Arthur. It appears to quiz him a little too much, if benignly. This is highlighted by the periodic extreme close-ups of the flashing curser. This film is extremely well structured and paced. It’s obvious a lot of thought has gone into the many ways an individual could be affected psychologically by extreme isolation, pressure and uncertainty. Richard Mundy should be congratulated for creating such an entertaining and thought-provoking potboiler as his debut feature. I’ll expect to see more outstanding work from him very soon.

Of course, this wouldn’t work without the right actor to carry if off. As the film began I wasn’t certain Andrew Kinsler would be able to portray the mental and emotional changes required to single-handedly make this real. It’s nice to be mistaken once in a while. I found myself being carried along by his character’s personal sociological journey. I’m a big fan of psychology, so this is right up my street. It also leaves you thinking at the end, which is infinitely preferable to a neat little explanations tied up with string and a bow! I was ready to give this release a 9, but the absence of extra features disappointed me somewhat. Perhaps it was lack of funds, but I would have enjoyed hearing the story behind the film. The sound level was also very low; okay for me, but the hard of hearing would have struggled.


Ty Power

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