Thursday, December 17, 2015

At The End



This is one of the longer short films I'm going to be posting, clocking in at about 20 minutes, but it might be worth it. At The End is by writer and director Jason Whitmore, and from what I've read, it poses an interesting question, or at least, interesting in a sci-fi nonsense kind of way...

Here's the synopsis: Earth’s days are numbered when a nearby star goes supernova. Seizing the opportunity, an alien race has offered humanity a deal: Be our slaves or be left to die. As one couple struggles toward the last escaping ship, they grapple with the cost of sacrificing their freedom for their survival.

Interesting, right? Let's watch...


Did the main actress have a weird accent, or was it just me? Maybe a speech impediment? Was she trying to hide her British accent? I couldn't quite tell, but something weird was going on there.

In a nutshell, At The End is an ambitious film, and it generally handles itself well when it comes to the overall look and the special effects, pretty much the basic nuts and bolts of shoestring-budget film-making, but the big problem become apparent when the script demands a more heavily emotional moment from its actors, which it does frequently, when isn't operating with all the subtlety of a thematic sledge hammer to the forehead, that is...

So, yeah, the script and actors are just all right, maybe less than all right...

The other problem I had? While the film definitely looks good, the geography of the story makes no sense. Where does this take place? I mean, besides Earth, of course. The film never tells us where the characters start, or where they're going. The only thing we know is that they have two days to get there, or the ships will leave them behind, but the locations we're shown throughout the film, especially during the walking montage, vary so wildly that it seems like the film is implying the characters are walking across the country, which--as I said--makes no sense. The time limit alone precludes that possibility. I get that they're trying to make it more of a "universal" story somehow by just saying "It's on earth" and showing a mish-mash of locales to convey that it could take place anywhere, but that's not really the best plan when you have a white cast walking through what is obviously America. Known locations would have grounded the film in a reality it sorely needed.

That being said, the premise is a good one: Would you give up your "freedom" in order to live? If the world was dying and aliens showed up and said: "We will save you, but you must become our slaves," would you go? I have to admit, basic survival, and a not inconsequential amount of bald-faced curiosity would make me lean toward going. You don't know what kind of slave you'd have to be. I mean sure... Spice Mines, right? That's what everyone expects. Maybe they'll make you be a dancing girl, like in Jabba's Palace, or you and your best friend could get thrown into a Fighting Pit for the amusement of your Alien Overlords, like Kirk and Spock. All reasonable expectations. Or possibly, most likely, you'll end up cleaning the Aliens' bathrooms, or disposing of their toxic waste... You're right, it could be terrible.

BUT...

What if you were given the equivalent life of an old lady's much beloved cat? You lay in the sun for hours, eat all day, poop in a sand pile, and if they touch your stomach for too long, you bite the shit out of them... That could be a not bad deal, right? Better than the fiery wrath of a dying star, right?

But your mileage might vary.

Anyway, the movie itself is okay. The script and actors are not quite up to snuff, but they're not that bad either. If you can handle that, then you might find At The End to be an imaginative and interesting film. Sure, maybe more for the question posed, and the resulting thought exercise, than the film itself, but whatever, it's fun. If you've got the time, check it out.

Space slave curious,
Jon

P.S. What a crap-tastic poster...


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