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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 04.30.15] scifi horror

Infini is the second feature from Australian director Shane Abbess, who broke onto the scene with an impressive actioner called Gabriel (review). Filmed on a buget of (supposedly) $150,000 Australian dollars, it was an impressive enough showcase of the young filmmaker's visual chops that Abbess was courted in Hollywood, becoming attached to numerous big films over the years; none of which have moved into production with him at the helm.

So, dying to get back behind the camera, Abbess went back to Australia to make Infini, a sci-fi/horror affair from his own script, with an emotional centre - something he could be proud of.

The results are, not surprisingly, stunning to look at. Here again Abbess, along with production designer George Liddle (Dark City) and cinematographer Carl Robertson work wonders with an independent budget and no major names to create a compelling future world akin to Blade Runner where our hero, Whit Carmichael, is a member of an elite search and rescue team - the "most dangerous job" there is - who are able to "slipstream" to various points in the universe for missions.

I'll pause here for a moment to talk about Sliptsreaming. First, Abbess approaches the visual of Slipstreming with the same wonderful and economy that Rian Johnson handled time travel in Looper. Instead of some cornball FVX, the effect appears to be done in-camera using editing and over/under cranking the camera. Even if I'm wrong here, the effect is jarring and just wonderful. Second, Sliptstreaming is interesting because Abbess takes time into account. Hours across the galaxy is mere minutes back on earth.

Anyhoo, our story is kicked off when a rescue team is sent to a mining colony called INFINI. Within seconds they return, bloody and screaming and infected with, we assume, some kind of virus. In a bid to escape infection, Carmichael illegally "slips" to the INFINI station on his own.

A second team, this one from the east-coast, is quickly put together and sent in to retrieve him, as well as destroy a dangerous payload that is queued up to be send back to earth. I won't spoil anything past this entre into the movie proper.

INFINI wears its influences on its sleeves. Shades of great past space station horrors like Aliens and Event Horizon are obvious, but I would argue that, in terms of story, INFINI is actually more akin to the surreal French scifi film Dante 01 in that it boils down to very internal character conflicts more than an external threat. And like that film, this is both interesting and maddening as a viewer.

This is very much a "space madness" movie and, honestly, watching people go mad can be tiresome after a while - regardless of how good the actors are. Abbess visualizes the madness well and, in that way, the film is impressive, but it's also a tad repetitive and sometimes you just want people to stop rambling crazy things to each other and have a bit more of a plot to kick into gear.

I don't want to spoil the "thing" that causes everyone to go bananas, but I will say that Abbess was smart to use it as a way to tell a story about the basic conflicts of our human nature and how perhaps not giving into our darker selves is pretty crucial. The "thing" seems designed to not be more interesting than the message of the movie and, depending on your tastes, this might be a good thing.

In the end, INFINI feels like an R-rated Twilight Zone episode more than a feature film. That's not a knock on the film's production or performances, but the story. It feels a bit slight and melodramatic at times, but the performances are solid enough to sell it all and there's a lot of world building to like here.

INFINI sees release on VOD and select theatres May 8, 2015, so mark your calendars accordingly.

Recommended Release: LOOPER

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Michael (5 years ago) Reply

No way this movie cost only $150,000. More like 1.5 million.


foz (5 years ago) Reply

read it properly..., his first film Gabriel cost $150k, So, dying to get back behind the camera, Abbess went back to Australia to make Infini


Digger (5 years ago) Reply

I wished this was better.


Gene-O (5 years ago) Reply

Very good review. I just saw it and agree that the plot just started to thin out about 3/4 way through. But it really caught my imagination in the beginning. Visually very impressive. I wish people would stop stealing shots from "2001 - A Space Odyssey" :-)

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