Thursday, August 13, 2015

State Zero

This one looks interesting...

State Zero is the debut film of writer/director Andree Wallin. He's worked in the art department of films like Oblivion and on the upcoming Star Wars films too. Check out his website. I did, and right away I liked his whole general aesthetic, but the thing that really hooked me about this particular short film is probably easy for you long time readers out there to guess... That's right, State Zero takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting, Sweden specifically. The Sweden part isn't what really drew me in, of course, I'm just generally into a bit of ruin-porn, all right? I'll admit it. Not to mention I'm a sucker for some dystopian sci-fi, so yeah, I'm excited to watch this one. Shocker.

What's it about, you ask?

Here's the official synopsis: In the near future, the capital of Sweden has turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. we join four soldiers on a routine mission in 'zone 3', with the assignment to investigate an old surveillance tower that just went offline.

Sounds good to me, let's watch...

All right.

That was definitely all right. Good looking, but not great. It built the world, the scene, and the tension really well, but it kind of all built to nothing, right? I mean, I enjoyed it, and it was certainly cool looking--who doesn't love the Aliens/Halo riff they had going on--but in the end, it felt very big on ideas, but very light on the narrative. There was set-up, yes, and a definite tension at the start, but very little follow through in the end. What little character work there was was kind of wasted.

Did it matter that Christian Guy was Christian? Or that Asshole Guy was an asshole? There was no point to the mention, no resolution to their early conflict. Why show the Experiment Guy and a picture of his family? What significance did the bracelet hold? What was Last Man Standing Guy supposed to do with it? We know they were there to fix a "surveillance tower", but only because the synopsis told us that. Why fix it? What do they need it for? What happened to this world, and what was the big Dome at the end?

I mean, I can fill in the gaps: Secret Government Project lacks morals and experiments on humans, shit gets out of hand and breaks containment. City is abandoned for Fortified Safe Zone. Creatures evolve, while humans become more insular. Lone soldier given the key to exposing the truth? Maybe? I don't know, I'm guessing, because we weren't shown or told. That's what the film is missing, the "who, what, and why" of the story.

And honestly, tacking "To be continued" on the end of your short film is cheating, especially when you haven't really gotten us to a point of caring yet. If we don't care, we're not going to bother watching the next episode. So far, all we've got is: "Generic soldiers in a generic post-apocalyptic urban setting versus some kind of lab-created bio-weapon vampires." And yeah, that's a cool setting, and the effects and costumes certainly looked great, and at times it was shot really well too, but why should I care? Why should I bother returning? Especially when your actions scenes are mostly too dark, and really, kind of unexciting? Action or Story, my friend. You gotta have at least one or the other, ideally both, but at least have one or the other, especially in a Short Film.

In the end, State Zero is a damn good looking film, but the story is just too thin.


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