A new name to me, Shane Abbess directed Gabriel in 2007, a movie that didn’t rake in the cash but gained a cult following, and he made the move to Hollywood. That was around six-seven years ago. To paraphrase Abbess, he was an Aussie independent filmmaker, which meant he was always fighting against what he wanted to do. That ever elusive final cut, or at least something close to creative control. Unsurprisingly, coming from our minor film industry, Abbess wasn’t versed in how Hollywood works: like a business, and this resulted in the butting of heads. Remember Source Code? Not a bad film. Shane worked as director for two years until creative differences had him fired. So Shane decided to come back to Australia, deciding to make the most anti-Hollywood, anti-conventional movie he could. He is also releasing it as a digital release first, further going against the trend. Given how our films fare in our own cinemas when super-heroes clog the multiplexes, I think this isn’t such a bad idea.
Based in 2027, the world is mining planets across the cosmos via slipstreaming – a form of teleportation that we are told is considered dangerous due to risks involved. No further details are given as the film thrusts us into a frenetic opening scene, multiple superiors questioning soldiers over and over. Here and elsewhere through the film, the sound-editing is brilliant. The scene becomes more chaotic as questions overlap answers, to the point where nothing intelligible can be heard. We again are given no explanation, and the scene quickly ends, leading us to the start of the narrative proper where we meet rookie solider Carmichael and his new squad.
Without explaining the entire film, the premise is that resources are mined from planets across the cosmos via slipstreaming. It does not take long for the action to start as a squad returns from a mission in very bad shape. It isn’t clear what has happened, but what is immediately clear is that the building is locking down, resulting in a lethal quarantine. Barely ten minutes into the movie and the action has begun.
We are then taken to another part of this outfit, a search and rescue team. They have a mission to achieve on a far planet, a former mining base that has been shut permanently, and as their superior is explaining the mission he hears about the incident we have just seen. One person survived, and he did this by slipstreaming out of the building onto the same planet their mission is targeting. This giant coincidence is easily swallowed though by the action that follows. The soldiers find Carmichael, but there is something very different about this planet, as the team soon learns. An unexpected guest suddenly crashes the party in violent fashion and the movie explodes into action, as this sequence leads to an outbreak of sorts, not an original premise, but the nature of the outbreak most certainly is. The less I write and the less you read about the plot the better. Go in blind, and don’t watch the trailer!
Infini is far from perfect; the character development is pretty thin save for lead Carmichael, and the action scenes are shot in that awful style where the camera is too close and switches angles far too often. Why forty different angles are needed for one action sequence I don’t know, but it doesn’t look good. The final act maintains the tension for the most part, but the final sequences felt underwhelming and almost disappointing given the unique ideas already established.
In contrast to this though, the path the film travels down is most certainly different, and at times oddly disturbing. There are many thoughtful themes at play, which unfortunately aren’t explored further. The psychological element of this film is its strong point, with characters often a serious threat to themselves. Hallucinations are shown in a very erratic and immersive way, while the sound is used well again to create a distorted sense of reality that matches that of the characters. The use of special effects looks great too, as does most of the camerawork. This certainly doesn’t look like it was shot in one massive shed. MacPherson is simply brilliant, nailing the range of emotion Carmichael goes through.
4/5 – Infini isn’t a must-see film, but it certainly is for anyone who loves sci-fi, and is one of the more unique films I have seen in a while. A little too conventional in its execution to be anti-Hollywood, but the imagination is there in spades. Recommended!
Available to order online from tomorrow, May 8.