Frank (Christopher Soren Kelly) wakes up in a cell with no memory of how he got there, or what he did to be placed there. His only companion is Howard, (Jesse D. Arrow), a disembodied voice who’s job he is told is to keep him alive. It also seems to be to get inside his mind to get evidence of his crime. In the film’s near future world this is done by “Processing”, making the suspect relive the event until the required evidence is found. As he relives it we see his world, looking like America well on its way to something out of Orwell’s 1984. We also see how Frank and others, especially Gabby (Cassandra Clark) hold onto their sense of self in this world.
Written and directed by Travis Milloy the writer of the 2009 thriller Pandorum, this has almost nothing in common with that tale of deep space cannibalism beyond both are excellent films. This is a very low budget, personal work with very limited cast and sets, almost all of it happens in one of two locations. There’s more than a touch of Groundhog Day as written by Kafka to the film. What has he done, or has he done anything at all? As he keeps reliving it we start to wonder what is real and what might be induced.
Obviously a dialogue driven film, although with some action scenes towards the end the film is carried by the back and forth between Frank and Howard, while the scenes between Frank and Gabby add a lighter touch to the proceedings, humanizing them as it were. The actors really do justice to the script, and it’s a testament to them that with so little to work with in terms of other cast members or outside events they keep this from getting dull or stale. Special mention must be given to Arrow, as he has only his voice to work with as he conveys a range of emotions as the film’s events unfold.
A mention should also be made of the set design, Frank’s cell has the clean, sparsely furnished look that’s out of 2001 or Space:1999. It makes it look instantly believable, even though they were set in a future that is our past, they still seem futuristic. The set does so much for the film’s believability while not costing much. Another film that gets a visual nod is George Lucas’s THX-1138.
The film has had success on the festival circuit, getting the award for best screenplay at the 2016 Boston SciFi Film Festival, and the Audience Award for Favorite Feature Film at the Fantastic Cinema Festival in Little Rock, AK. It deserves to get noticed and hopefully get the rewards it deserves in a limited released and/or VOD. And hopefully it won’t be another seven years before we hear from Travis Milloy again.