Carnival Row Episodes 1 – 4: Magnificent World-Building

"Carnaval Row" Ep101 D22/38 Photo: Jan Thijs 2017While not everything is up to such a high standard, we have been spoiled over the past few years with some really sophisticated television shows that can be superior to anything the cinema gives us. As production values soar and often equal those of cinema (as suggested way back in the days of Babylon 5, CGI has been a great leveller between silver screen and home), television has used its great advantage of running-time to great effect- indeed, the serialisation of so many film franchises is an example of cinema heeding this fact and mimicking television. It could well be argued that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is really episodic storytelling for the silver screen.

As far as production value goes, most of these new television shows are not cheap, and largely owe their existence to non-Network channels, such as HBO or streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon. The biggest of them all, apparently, is The Lord of the Rings series from Amazon, which is set to commence shooting in New Zealand early next year. What I have heard of its scale and ambition, that show may well break the wall (to borrow a line from BR2049) between the worlds of television and cinema, and so prove there is no distinction between the two at all. We may even be past that point already, depending upon how one views such epics as Game of Thrones or Westworld or Altered Carbon.  It may ultimately not even be a Good Thing, either, as I’d suggest that good storytelling can often benefit from limitations. Good drama depends more upon good characters and conflict, rather than hordes of CGI armies and spectacle. Too often have good movies been spoiled by reliance on spectacle simply because they are perceived to need to be a blockbuster, to draw audiences in for some new sense of scale in action and visuals. Without access to all such visual splendour, traditional genre television has had to rely on more old-fashioned stuff like good storytelling, characterisation etc

carival4Latest of Amazon’s offerings is Carnival Row, an eight-episode series starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. Its a Victorian steampunk fantasy that is visually arresting: giving it the ‘look’ of a lavish period drama, and then populating it with strange steampunk tech and fantasy creatures such as horned/hoofed satyrs (the Pucks) and dragonfly-winged fairies (the Fae), Centaurs, Trolls, and even a Cthulhu-like monster lurking in the underground maze of the sewers, is something of a masterstroke. But what I found really impressive is its world-building: instead of drawing attention to all the more fantastic visual elements, instead it is offered up as something ordinary, even mundane. The remarkable is simply unremarkable. Moreover, the dialogue is wonderfully dense at times, referencing races, objects, religions, places, and not feeling the need to explain them- they are instead almost offhand details that add a sense of depth and colour to the piece. Rather than explain everything we see and hear, we are left to pick up the pieces ourselves. On the one hand, it is mostly incidental; we can follow the plot regardless, but for anyone wishing to go the extra mile, so to speak, it offers another level of meaning and detail to that plot. Its Tolkien by way of Charles Dickens.

Inevitably, Carnival Row is a drama of its time. At its heart it is a blatant allegory of mass migration, its economic impact and resultant racism and bigotry familiar to most news reports of our day. The various fantastical races of this fantasy -the Pucks, the Fae and the other bizarre creatures, have been displaced by the carnage of war between competing human nations fighting over the mineral wealth of their Old World that dates back long before humans came into the world. The Pact, the victorious human nation, has slaughtered most of the Fae and forced any survivors to either flee or perish as their villages and homes are destroyed. The Burgue, the human nation that lost the war and whose armies have retreated to its own land, has granted some manner of sanctuary for the creatures, with many of them settling into Carnival Row, something of a ghetto of disrepute and a melting-pot for the various races, traditions and religions.

carnival1Here Human, Puck, Fae, Centaur and Troll manage to keep some manner of peace but the tensions are high.  The Burgue’s central government is split between those who wish to maintain sanctuary for the migrant races and those who fear the alien outsiders that are perceived as taking worker’s jobs and spreading crime and disease. An aristocratic family formerly of wealth and good standing but now on the cusp of bankruptcy and poverty, are horrified when a rich Puck businessman moves next door and threatens to bring down the neighbourhood.  A young Fae, Vignette Stonemoss (Delevingne), the sole survivor of a ship that fled her homeland with refugees, is forced into servitude to pay back the money she owes for her passage to ‘freedom’. A streetwise police inspector, Rycroft Philostrate (Bloom) is, unlike most of the police, sympathetic to the plight of Carnival Row’s more colourful denizens and has to circumvent the indifference (and outright hostility) of his superiors when trying to solve a series of bloody and horrible murders in the Row.

The art direction is wondrous, the set designs richly designed and quite elegant. The sense of period lends a reality to everything that makes some of the fantastical elements all the more convincing. Coupled with the beautiful cinematography (which looks really amazing in 4K UHD, with lovely use of HDR) these sets and costumes are a joy to behold. Its really quite cinematic and quite convincing. There is a genuine sense of place, and reality. The casting and acting is really fine, too, with an interesting use of accents bringing another layer of detail to it.

I’m really enjoying it, and so soon after The Boys aired, its clear that Amazon is really moving up a gear with some of its original shows -indeed, perhaps only now are we seeing the results of its increasing investment into the gathering streaming wars. I was rather indifferent to the prospects for Amazons Lord of the Rings show, but on the strength of these two most recent series, my interest has been raised.

 

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Shanghai Fortress

shanghai1Hot on the heels of the utterly bonkers The Wandering Earth comes China’s version of Independence Day, the alien invasion thriller Shanghai Fortress, complete with your obligatory blitzkrieg of CGI aliens, aerial dogfights, explosions and collapsing skyscrapers. Some of the visuals are very good, and there is some fine imagery, but unfortunately they forgot to include a script. The Wandering Earth made little sense; this one makes no sense at all.

Unsurprisingly, all the eye candy in the world cannot save a genuinely bad film, and Shanghai Fortress flopped in spectacular fashion last month in its home territory, so much so that the director Teng Huatao issued a formal apology (they do things differently in China- imagine if Michael Bay had the decency to apologise for his Transformers films). Remarkably the film has already turned up on Netflix for veterans of The Wandering Earth to give Chinese sci-fi another go. Unfortunately as its theatrical box-office would suggest, Shanghai Express is a pretty poor, incoherent film full of plot-holes – at first I thought it might be down to bad subtitles/translation but its soon evident that the film really is just plain bad. The Wandering Earth was daft but kind of fun in its excess, this is just very dull.

The confusing plot involves an alien power source being discovered by Chinese astronauts on a (deep space?) mission that solves the worlds energy problems. Unfortunately, several years later some pissed-off aliens in a gigantic mothership arrive apparently looking to claim its power source back and promptly lays waste to any major city using it. Millions of humans are killed and every major population centre is turned to rubble, and Shanghai is, as the film begins, next on the list.

Now listen, just do yourself a favour and don’t think too hard about any of that. You might be perplexed that humanity has major energy problems but manages to send a ship on a deep space mission and not only manages alien contact but also steals a new power source from said aliens. The film in no way elaborates on who the aliens are or where they are from or how we stole the power source from them, its all just a perfunctory prologue awkwardly shown in a news bulletin before the CGI carnage ensues. It doesn’t mean anything, its all just an elaborate set-up to establish that there is an alien invasion in the offing and that the good people of Shanghai are our only hope. Mind, the people of the city are a fairly resilient lot, living under a protective energy shield they go on about their daily lives shopping and working and go to nightclubs in the evening, generally acting like Earth isn’t being invaded or that millions or even billions of humans haven’t died. Its all very odd. At least in Independence Day the American citizens knew it was time to get worried.

shanghai2.jpegThe cast do what they can with the underwritten and hackneyed characters, but the main lead, ace videogame pilot Jiang Yang (Lu Han, apparently a pop star rather than a ‘proper’ actor) has a cringe-worthy unrequited love affair with his beautiful military trainer Lin Lan (the very beautiful Shu Qi who is twenty years his senior and shares zero chemistry with him). The love affair seems to revolve around texting (stalking?) her and a flower that he hasn’t the nerve to give her. Its basically as complex as a student having a crush on his ‘hot’ teacher.

The odd thing is that towards the end of the film our heroes all start dying in CGI explosions, sacrificing themselves for the public good and its clear from the epic music score that we are meant to care but of course we can’t, they never feel like real people. Even our romantic leads don’t get the emotional pay-off we think they are going to get. One of them suddenly gets buried under a city of rubble (to maintain some sense of tension for any prospective viewers I won’t reveal which one) and that’s that, end of love affair and a subdued celebration when the aliens are thwarted. Except that Shanghai is such a submerged ruin at this point you have to wonder, did the aliens really lose?

Oh well. This Chinese sci-fi stuff is really weird and hopelessly juvenile. I never realised that Independence Day was so sophisticated.

Fahrenheit 11/9

flintI really thought this film was a distressing but tragically fitting document of our times: like many of us, perhaps, Michael Moore cannot quite believe the world we are living in. “Did we dream it?” he asks, as if doubting his own sanity. The title is a nod to Michael Moore’s most famous documentary film, Fahrenheit 9/11, here cleverly inverting the title to Fahrenheit 11/9, and referring to the election of Donald Trump on 9th November 2016. Yes, in this film Moore examines the broken American political system, the lies, hypocrisy, lack of gun control, corporate mendacity, and chiefly the rise of Donald Trump and how the impossible happened, how it came to be that he got elected. There’s plenty of people in his sights, including, perhaps most distressingly of all, the Republican party’s opposition, the Democrats and the the rise (and Democrats own destruction) of Bernie Sanders. Everybody in power is dishonest, in it for themselves- the whole system is corrupt, leaving the ‘little people’ (yeah, I sneaked in a Blade Runner reference), the general public, left behind poorer and ignored in its wake. Its all oddly reminiscent of John Carpenter’s They Live, sadly.

Seeing what amounts to politics and our own political elite here in the UK, with the bewildering machinations of our self-serving Westminster politicians, the media manipulation, their convenient soundbites and aversion to answering genuine questions, while Brexit overshadows everything, it’s easy to see parallels between Moore’s arguments and what is happening over here.

A particularly harrowing section concerns Flint, Michigan, a city whose water supply was poisoned in 2014 by its Republican governor Rick Snyder who enriched his corporate cronies/sponsors by building an unnecessary pipeline that literally poisoned the people, leaving children with dangerous, life-changing levels of lead in their bodies. Moore shows how the authorities manipulated evidence and outright lied to the public, denying there was any problem. Worse of all, Moore’s film presents a damning indictment of then-President Barack Obama, who closed ranks with the corrupt Snyder by visiting Flint and delivering a patronising and empty speech in which he lied and even made a blatantly condescending  pretense of drinking a glass of water. That a man so widely well-regarded as a noble and genuine leader, could be such a charlatan and fail to do anything to help, is shocking indeed. He comes across as badly as Trump himself, who is naturally the real villain and target of the film.

Its really all quite depressing, and it’s certainly difficult to describe any of it as entertaining (some footage of school gun attacks is particularly harrowing). Moore paints Trump as a Devil incarnate, even showing footage of Hitler and the Nazi rise to power in 1930s Germany under audio of Trump’s inane speeches. That section felt a step too far to me, but it certainly made its point about how an intelligent, liberal and open Germany of the 1920s could become what it did, reminding us that what could happen there could happen here- indeed, Moore reflecting that it is happening, right now, and people seem powerless to stop it.

Netflix has all sorts of documentary films on all sorts of subjects, but this one certainly is well worth anyone’s time if they want to ponder on the political state of the world we live in, the corruption and the lies, all that stuff that rightly makes us all angry. You may not agree with Moore’s point of view, but his argument is quite harrowing and the film something of an eye-opener. America is not the America we thought it was. Let’s hope the United Kingdom does not follow suit- mind, we have Boris as Prime Minister now. Maybe John Carpenter was right all along. The aliens are here.

 

Ending Another Life

another2Euueew, what’s that smell? Could it possibly be this stinking turd of a series? I think it might. Quick, dig a deep hole and chuck this in, bury it.

The last three episodes of this show. Unbelievable. It may possibly be THE WORST SCI-FI SHOW I HAVE EVER SEEN. I was actually shouting at the television in my dismay/horror/frustration.

I have often written about bad writing, bad scripts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as badly written, badly constructed, or nonsensical, as this. I thought Nightflyers was bad. I’ve written about how poor so much of Star Trek: Discovery was, particularly in the second half of its second season. But neither were anywhere near as bad as this.

I could write about why. I could write a list of my WTF moments during the season. I could highlight the horrible lapses in logic, the stupid character moments/arcs. The soap opera inanity of it. I could write a list of all the better tv shows and movies that this thing kept on ripping off.  I think I’d be wasting my time though. It was a horrible, horrible mess, and it wasn’t even bad-funny that would make watching it passable, it was bad-unfunny and watching it was almost unbearable. I’d love to see the Netflix stats of how many people started episode one and got all the way through to episode ten. Not many of, I guess. We Unhappy Few.

another3According to the credits, Aaron Martin seems to be the lead showrunner/writer/producer of this show. I have marked his name for posterity and shall watch out for his future endeavours with trepidation. Checking on IMDB, he’s the creator of Slasher, a horror anthology series about serial killers whose beautiful something victims try to stay alive, The Best Years, a teen drama about the lives of beautiful somethings at college, and has previously worked on several seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation, a romantic drama about beautiful somethings at Degrassi Community School dealing with the serious issues that plague beautiful something teenagers. Lots of clues there about how Another Life and its crew of beautiful something non-entities racing off into space turned out (clue: there’s romance and jealousy and stupid mistakes, sex with one guy, sex with two guys, sex with a hologram, rich daddies back on Earth, annoying little kids back on Earth, gay husbands back on Earth- basically all the trendy social concerns ticked). I’m sure Aaron is likely a very nice guy, and is clearly quite successful as a television writer and producer, but equally clearly, he’s not a science fiction writer, and was hopelessly unprepared and/or ill-advised on this show. Did nobody read the scripts, question the stupidity?

Another Life needed a science fiction writer. It needed someone who understood its conventions, its history, the required internal logic. Instead, well, this is mostly likely the most idiotic, absurd and asinine science fiction project I have ever had the misfortune to suffer through. I only hope that, like Nightflyers, it gets very quickly cancelled and put to rest, and that Aaron Martin departs this genre he has so rashly blighted, and goes back to the silly teenage angst dramas about the plights of beautiful somethings that he is so successful at.

And allowed nowhere near any genre show ever again, thank you very much.

The 2019 List: July

Wow. I came this close. I came this close to reaching 100 by the end of July. No mean feat, especially considering that this month includes five television series, entailing over fifty episodes (albeit the majority were for a sitcom show of about 20 mins apiece). Curiously, the best and worst viewing of the month are in that television section: worst of the month was Star Trek: Discovery (alas for STD, I haven’t yet finished Another Life, which frankly would be the worst of any month) and the best was Chernobyl, which I only finished yesterday and haven’t had time to review it yet.

So anyway, it was a bit of a strange month, adding 15 titles to the 2019 total was unexpected, considering this was a Wimbledon month which monopolised the television for the best part of two weeks. I really thought this monthly review would be a pretty threadbare post, but there’s an awful lot here. I really enjoyed the Quatermass show, which dates way back to 1958 and was really refreshing in being something full of ideas and hidden depths rather than eye-candy, and I’m absolutely loving the lazy ease of watching The Big Bang Theory, which is such an undemanding watch it’s almost addictive.

The films I watched this month are what proved most disappointing. I’ve had a bit of a run of Dwayne Johnson films, and it’s been all downhill from the (surprisingly good) Jumanji film he starred in, but Rampage was really pretty bad. I think the best film of the month was In Bruges, with honorable mention going to A Star is Born.

Which is ignoring rewatch stuff- as both Prisoner of Second Avenue and Field of Dreams, both old faves recently restored, are better than anything else I watched this month, period. I continue to find myself resisting just ignoring ‘new’ stuff and going back to old stuff I’ve seen before- maybe that’ll happen one day (it somes invitable, at some point) and this blog will just be some old dude waxing lyrical about old movies and tv shows.

 TV Shows

85) Quatermass and the Pit (1958-59)

87) The Big Bang Theory Season One

89) Star Trek: Discovery Season Two

94) The Big Bang Theory Season Two

98) Chernobyl

Films

84) Rampage

86) In Bruges

88) Captain Marvel

90) Armstrong (Doc.)

91) A Star is Born (2018)

92) Kingsman: The Golden Circle

93) For the Love of Spock (Doc.)

95) The Dark Tower

96) Bushwick

97) Unsane

Last Week: Tears in Rain

Last week I picked up my old hardback of Frank Herbert’s Dune for a reread. Continued reading the frankly miraculous and perfect Vol.4 Amazing Spider Man Omnibus (it’s like I’m ten all over again), watched quite a bit of new stuff on tv and was saddened to read the news of Rutger Hauer’s death at the age of 75. We’re all getting older and 1982 seems such a long time ago, even more so with Rutger’s passing.

rutgerAs anyone familiar with this blog over the years will know, Blade Runner is my favourite movie- it remains the most intense cinematic experience of my life. Its a dark irony that we are now living in 2019, the year in which the film is set, which back in 1982 was still a lifetime away. To paraphrase Rutger, all those years lost in time like tears in rain. I have watched that film so many times, over 200 most likely (I used to keep count but gave up at around 100) and I have always been fascinated by Rutger’s performance as Roy Batty. Mercurial, bewitching, childlike, feral… one of the biggest achievements of the film was transforming a one-note and frankly incidental character from the book into possibly the true star of the film. Watching Blade Runner, there is always the sense that Rutger knew he was playing the part of a lifetime and seized every opportunity to maximise the performance and every magical cinematic moment. So many things came right for the film- the perfect director, the perfect composer, the perfect cinematographer, visual effects artists, editor, production designers and futurist… and Rutger was the perfect actor to play Roy Batty. He seems to know that in every single scene he is in.

Over the years I would be a bit of a Rutger fanboy, fascinated to see him in other roles (although somehow I never saw him in The Hitcher, must rectify that), from Flesh & Blood to Dark Knight and of course those Guinness ads. Nothing really approached the greatness of Roy Batty, and in particular the Tears in Rain speech that became one of the most famous and quoted scenes in film history. Nothing could ever equal it, I guess, and I marvel that Rutger evidently handled this fact well over the years. I imagine it might have haunted some actors to be in the shadow of something like that forever: thank goodness his biography wasn’t titled ‘I Am Not Roy!’

another1Katee Sackhoff  of course has a famous genre character of her own, as Battlestar Galactica‘s reimagined Starbuck. She’s continued a very successful career since and seems at peace with Starbuck being her defining role, but goodness me she’s backed a turkey with Another Life, the new sci-fi show on Netflix. Since my post the other day I’ve watched a few more episodes and Good Lord it’s just gotten worse. Its abominable, frankly, and I’ve not been cheered up by discovering that what I mistakenly thought was an eight-part show is in fact ten episodes. Its really becoming hard work to get through. The last episode was what I like to call the ‘Space:1999 episode’ which means it was so bad it’s like the last forty years of sci-fi television never happened. Shows are rarely that bad, although Nightflyers pulled it off too. Two episodes after the crew was nearly all killed by an alien infection from a rogue moon, they now land on an Earth-like planet and sample the native fruit etc by, er, just going ahead and eating it, breath the local air and don’t even wear gloves. One character gets a scratch off a thorn and nearly loses his leg in mere seconds from a deadly infection, and another two walk into a colourful forest glade from the Annihilation set and get intoxicated  by hallucinogenic drugs given off by the flora. In another episode, an alien hunts and kills the crew on the spaceship one by one until it turns out it’s all a hypersleep dream. In the last episode I watched, an alien bug brought onboard from that Earth-like planet fraks up some wiring which nearly wipes out the ship, everyone only saved by the obnoxious always-bitching communications woman who has continuously failed to get communications up and running, who sacrifices herself and ends the show as a bloody puddle. So I guess they’ll never get communications up. Maybe the show will amaze me with an amazing finale twist, but I doubt it.

The next season of The Expanse, not arriving until December, seems so long away.

While I dedicate far too much time here writing about Another Life, and also Star Trek: Discovery prior to that, I just feel I need to point out really bad scripts and creative choices. Another Life is truly abominable and should never have gotten filmed in the state its in. Sackhoff is actually a producer on the show so probably sees it as a career progression, but that only reinforces her guilt for the whole thing being so bad, it’s not as if she’s just an actor trying to make the best of the scripts she’s given. It is very true that some parts of the creative business in Hollywood and beyond are taking the streaming giants of Netflix and Amazon for a ride. There is no quality control, it seems, when the main objective is just to get access to that streaming pot of gold. I’ve ranted about this before and I’m certain I will do so again. Of course the streaming giants are party to the guilt themselves because they just seem to be throwing money at everything in the hope something sticks, but genre shows really are taking steps backwards of late and it’s a worrying development. I’m certainly no professional and have no story in print anywhere, but I could write a better show than Another Life – there should, surely, be a quality distinction between what passes for professional script writing and what is often dismissively termed ‘fan fiction’ but of late I have to wonder. Maybe us amateurs deserve a shot, doubt we could do any worse.

Except maybe that’s the point. Maybe, as I have noted before, the geeks finally have inherited the Earth (or Hollywood, certainly) and all this mess is simply because too many geeks/amateurs think they can write scripts or be showrunners. It does seem curious that Another Life seems to be ripping off a different tv show/movie every episode, and that Star Trek: Discovery was riddled with nods to Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Inception etc.  so much so that it seldom seemed like Star Trek at all.

 

 

 

Bushwick

bushThanks to its outrageously preposterous storyline, this film has an awful lot in common with John Carpenter’s classic Escape From New York, and to be honest Carpenter’s film came to mind several times during the film. Its certainly something I most appreciated from it- Carpenter had a knack of coming up with a killer (albeit ridiculous) premise, whether it be turning New York into a State Prison or an old police precinct under siege from a murderous street gang or a coastal town terrorised by ghosts of pirates after revenge, and spinning it into a compelling low-budget thriller, the low-budget, no-frills approach only adding further verisimilitude to the project. Less gloss, more grit. The low camera angles, the long single-camera shots, the rather odd funky 1970s-like soundtrack… Bushwick shares a great deal of the style and sensibilities of early Carpenter work, with particular echoes of Assault on Precinct 13.

The casting of David Bautista (so good in BR2049) brought me to it, and to be honest I really didn’t expect much other than a derivative b-movie action flick and an opportunity to see Bautista in an early career effort. I even thought the title referred to the Bautista characters name, like in films such as Shaft, Bullitt etc- I didn’t realise it referred to a NYC district.

Sometimes films pleasantly surprise, because on the whole this film was pretty good. Shot in the style of Cloverfield, as one long continuous take as if in real time, that conceit wears a little thin as you play a bit of a game spotting the trickery that they use to join all the seperate takes (lens flare giving them an artificial fade-out/fade in to white, sometimes the shot slipping into dark shadow like a momentary fade to black, sometimes a split screen created by the scenery) which is a little unfortunate, in the same way as found-footage movies get distracting when you start wondering who keeps on filming stuff in such moments of stress or how did someone later find it and edit it together. But the film somehow still draws you in, ultimately becoming compellingly fascinating viewing.

The core fascination is that daft premise, and also its nightmarish reflection of the American Dream gone amok- in this respect it often reminds of The Purge series. Its a uniquely American thing, that mash-up of patriotism and gun ownership, where it fits in society and modern civilization, how easily that could break down and the country return to the Wild West myth of good vs evil, right vs might and the power of the gun.  It reminded me a great deal of DMZ, a comic book by Brian Wood set in a near future Second American Civil War in which Manhattan Island has become a Demilitarised Zone caught between the opposing factions. I bought the deluxe hardback collections a few years back and had heard it was going to become a miniseries or something- perhaps this movie dates back to this project, because it does seem awfully close.

bush2Lucy (Brittany Snow) returns to Brooklyn with her new boyfriend Jose, to find the underground station oddy deserted and alarm sirens sounding. Nearing the exit they are confronted by a screaming man racing by, all aflame, and sounds of explosions and gunfire ahead. It transpires that the city has been invaded by an armed militia, arresting and killing people in the face of an armed response from the locals. Anarchy has broken out, criminals and police and this mysterious militia attempting to take control of the streets through gun battles with innocents caught in the carnage and looters taking advantage of the bedlam. Helicopters patrol the skies and snipers take shots from rooftops at everyone passing by, lawlessness is everywhere.

Lucy falls in with Stupe (Dave Bautista) a veteran US navy medical officer traumatised by past experiences and the loss of his family in the 9/11 tragedy. They both get injured and have to work together to survive, heading for a US army extraction point, during which they get caught in lootings and gunfights and encounters with the armed militia, discovering that Political elements have broken free of the Union, and commenced a new civil war between rival States.

Its daft and crazy but somehow it works. I think its low-budget, no-frills approach works mightily in its favour, especially in how the gritty visuals, camera work and largely electronic score evokes so much of John Carpenter’s films. Its hardly groundbreaking but I’d much rather see low-budget, novel films such as this than your typical, anodyne blockbuster films: in some ways it reminded me of the early VHS era when stuff like this seemed to be on the rental shelves.  Admittedly its use of CGI etc betrays it as a modern film but on the whole in its sensibilities it really does feel very low-fi 1980s in mood and approach. Nothing particularly groundbreaking here but a pleasant surprise nonetheless-  I enjoyed it.