Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Rift and Returning from the Dead - Again!: A Film Review

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*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by the film's publicity arm.

Directed by: Dejan Zecevic

Writers: Barry Keating, Milan Konjevic.

Cast: Ken Foree, Katarina Cas, Monte Markham and Dragan Micanovic.

With the Eastern Bloc defunct, more and more films are coming out of Eastern Europe nowadays. The Rift bills itself as Serbia's first science fiction film. But, the film sets itself amongst a number of genres. It is essentially a mystery. There are strong elements of action here, as well. When the dead come back to life, there will be gunfire, especially with longtime horror vet' Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead, 1978) starring. The soundtrack is a bit overwhelming; it bounces between instrumentals, rock music and a few other styles. Meanwhile, the film's story covers existentialist themes. This viewer wondered if the film was trying to answer the question: what if Jesus wore a spacesuit? Overall, this sci-fi action thriller is entertaining, but a bit of a miss on the deeper moral message.

The story begins simply enough. Several government agents are tasked with recovering a downed satellite. John Smith (Foree) and Liz (Katarina Cas) team-up, along with Darko (Dragan Micanovic) and Dysart (Monte Markham). This foursome head out into the rural areas of Serbia. At an old home, they meet a very surly older man and a witchy woman. The meeting does not go well, leading to some of the film's stronger action. Not everyone makes it into the next series of scenes. But, everyone gets a second chance at life, with characters returning from the dead. Some of the minor characters return a few times, until Foree remembers George A. Romero's sage advice: "shoot them in the head." This time, it is an axe to the noggin. Meanwhile, a supernatural character, in a spacesuit (is it Jesus?), is orchestrating a growing alien invasion. Who could need anymore plot devices than these?

The action elements stand out, within The Rift. Most of these agents bring some military skill, to the mission. They are all armed. And, even though this is a retrieval mission, the gunfire kicks off pretty early. Some of the minor characters are possessive of their alien-in-a-spacesuit. So, much of the action occurs in the initial act. Later, one of the main characters loses their mind and turns from burgeoning hero to villain. It is a little too heavy on the psyche to kill a person twice, thrice. Well, you get the picture. The action elements help up the film's tempo.

This viewer liked the soundtrack a little less. Composer Nikola Jeremic took the music into some strange places. There is some '70s influenced rock, through the credits. Then, there are piano interludes, or instrumentals. Later, this viewer swore he heard parts of the Silent Hill (2006) soundtrack. Then, it is back and forth and all over the place. The soundtrack is a little too forefront, when it should be farther in the background. As it was, the music can be a bit distracting as it fights for your attention.

What if Jesus wore a spacesuit? The film's approach to existentialist themes is not very straight forward. The Rift and its writers equate the spacesuit with Christian iconography. There are images of Mary, Jesus' mother, on the wall - when the spacesuit is shown. Also, there are shots of Christ on the cross as other characters make the Jesus Christ pose. Meanwhile, space and time are being altered. But, if this is Jesus, then he is a little more angry than usual. Because, the film's final moments show the world under attack, by corpses. Maybe, Jesus is a bit mad for what happened to him, during his first visit to Earth. It is all a bit confusing and it is difficult to pull out an underlining or unifying message.

The Rift has already released in territories like Serbia (2016) and the United Kingdom (2017). Cleopatra Entertainment will show the film, in the United States, this November. The Rift is an entertaining sci-fi thriller, with a few undead charactes thrown into the mix. There are also plenty of action sequences, here. While the soundtrack is slightly distracting and less-so during a second viewing, The Rift fails to offer a cohesive, underlining message. It also fails to define its villain, with one main character pulling some of the evil heavy weight. As it is, The Rift tries to break some new ground here. But, the filmmakers have really only pulled Jesus out of the ground (again), to begin some of the prophecies in Revelations.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10.

*this title will have a DVD release on December 12th, 2017.

More on The Rift at Cleopatra Entertainment: The Rift at Cleopatra Ent.

A trailer, for the film, is available here: The Rift Trailer on 28DLA

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