Christopher Butler directorial début is an audacious and refreshingly curious cross genre piece…
Perhaps Butler didn’t hear that commonly thrown about mantra which says you should start small when crafting your début film, after having seen his bold, experimental approach for myself though I’m more inclined to think he took one look at the proverbial rule book and ripped it in half. The decision to take a simple horror film about a woman teetering on the edge of insanity and infusing it with an investigation of the far-reaching effects of emotional trauma and also exploring the space and time rippling influences of past lives and cyclical lifespans speaks of a man who confidently wants to make his mark on the film industry. However it doesn’t always work in his favour….
I will heap praise on Butler for his ambition here but he does bite off more than he can chew. The first half of the movie works well as a relatively straightforward and pretty effective drama with some genuinely impacting scares mixed in. However when the film tries to broaden its horizons to encompass grand themes of humanity, existential questioning and how to embrace and accept death as an inevitable part of life the script buckles under the combined weight. That’s not to say it doesn’t hold your interest, the core story here is a powerful and compelling one, but it does get bogged down by placing its focus too often upon extended flashbacks which don’t quite sit right within the narrative.
Hugely instrumental in allowing the film to succeed is it’s lead actress Joanna Ignaczewska. She clearly digs deeply into her role and makes her character both emotionally relatable and strongly empathetic. If we didn’t feel her fear and pain the movie simply wouldn’t work, but she gives the film its emotional structure. Also featuring amongst the film’s highlights are the score and cinematography, both are really commendable and serve to give the film it’s dream/nightmare inspired quality.
The Scopia Effect is a confident and impressively ambitious début featuring a lead performance which grounds the whole thing in a tangible sense of reality. It may struggle at times to keep its grip on all the plates it is spinning but the talent on display here means we will be watching the careers of all involved over the coming years.
The Scopia Effect was released on DVD on the 15th February, and if you want to get your hands on a copy then head right on over here. Will you be checking it out? Let us know by dropping your thoughts off in the comment box below!