Dir: Tristan Barr
Release Date: 2023
“A convict is offered an opportunity to commute his sentence by monitoring a top secret experiment"
I was offered the opportunity to watch this movie on a screener by Director, Tristan Barr and it is quite an experience.
This movie is something of a departure for the Bad Movie Cult in that there are very few laughs to be had, very little to pick apart as ridiculous and certainly not much to make crude innuendo about.
In short, this is a serious movie and very effective it is too.
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For those who have read previous reviews on our site, or listened to our podcast, you will know that this spoiler free business is quite the ask as we usually dissect the movie in a deep dive, taking for granted that you, the good reader/listener, have already seen it.
That is not the case here, this movie is hot off the press.
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Let's do this.
The movie focuses on Willem, a convict offered a commuted sentence in exchange for his participation in an experiment.
Intercepted on his way to Prison by a shadowy Government agency (isn't that always the way?), he agrees to the terms and is whisked off to a remote bunker facility to begin.
Fun Fact: Movie Director Tristan Barr also plays Agent/Scientist, Dalesky
Willem is to be locked in a room under constant surveillance and asked to record his observations. Bit like prison really if you think about it
The movie is almost a Found Footage in the way we see Willem talking to cameras in his room, creating a video diary of his thoughts and the grainy shots of him being observed.
With that in mind, the film relies a lot on Willem, played by Stephen Phillips, who takes us through his day to day experiences, plus reliving his memories through insightful and revealing flashback home movie content.
Phillips does a great job as he explores pretty much every emotion humanly possible split between his twin timelines
Willem is being questioned by Dalesky while hooked up to an electric shock device which is activated for seemingly ever changing reasons.
His past is revealed in a back story which unravels as we go and his family and the dynamic between them is explored
Fun Fact: Tristan Barr was the writer/director behind Australia's first full-length feature film in one single take, across the span of 9 different locations and a running time of 82 minutes "Watch the Sunset" (2017), which was named by Cinema Australia as one of the top five films of the year
Before long, a figure is introduced into the adjoining room and things take a more sinister turn.
Who is it?
What is it?
Why is it there?
Is it even really there?
All questions we are faced with and not all of them get definitive answers
I'm not going to give anything more away here as I would undoubtedly do no justice to the subtleties, the hints, suggestions, and the invitation to draw your own conclusions as to what is happening.
Suffice to say, this is a multi-layered and ambitious movie, shot on a shoestring budget in Melbourne, Australia, which punches way above its weight
The movie develops slowly in an almost drama fashion, then builds a sense of dread from the minute the creature is introduced until it escalates towards a climax leaving just as many questions as answers.
The slow-burn build may deter some Horror fans who prefer short, sharp, shock scenes and jump scares, but this creates a sense of foreboding which is worth sticking around for and leads to a solid pay off.
Fun Fact: The movie has an Interactive MS-DOS Website which invites you to solve riddles and codes to access further www.subjectmovie.com
This is a difficult movie to nail down, certainly difficult to review (as you can tell) and difficult to 'enjoy' in the conventional sense but, if you give this one a go, you'll more than likely be thinking about it for a while afterwards.
This movie is now available exclusively on ScreamBox
There is a physical media release due in October via Umbrellaent.com.au
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It's Willem. The whole film rests on him. Likeable? Yes. Flawed? Certainly. Stephen Phillips displays a range of almost every human emotion in this movie.
The creature just staring back at him through the glass. That or Willem cranking one out
Dalesky: We're at 10% capacity here, Will. Now's not the time to play games
A couple of point-blank face shots early on. Always a treat
This movie was shot for less than $20,000