J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Anti Matter: Worm-Holes and Paranoia at Oxford

Maybe there is a rip in the space-time continuum. Perhaps Ana is lost in her own subconscious. However, one thing is certain: the animal rights activists are making the situation worse. Frankly, she probably should have done more testing on animals, because things have been going haywire for her ever since she served as a guinea pig in her own worm-hole teleportation project. She can’t trust anyone, not even herself in Keir Burrows’ Anti Matter (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in Los Angeles.

What started with logarithmic gobbledygook quickly and convincingly led to the creation of a small but stable worm-hole. At that point, Ana had to bring in some of her Oxford grad student colleagues: Nate, because they have always been secretly attracted to each other, and Liv, who is obnoxious, but she has the skills to generate the computing power they need. Thanks to her virus, hundreds of thousands of computers secretly linked into their distributed network.

Their tests proceed swimmingly until Microsoft announces they are releasing a patch to plug their worm, so Ana hastens to become the first human subject while they still have the computational capacity. Yes, this means we can blame Microsoft updates for all the trouble that follows. Ana will indeed “phase” just fine, but things get a little hazy from there. Suddenly, she is incapable of making long-term memories and whenever she asks Nate and Liv about it, they become shiftily evasive. To further stoke her paranoia, the animal rights demonstrators outside the lab have become increasingly militant and their smarmy leader takes a sinister interest in her. Plus, the authorities have traced the worm to Oxford.

Obviously, something went wrong during the phase, but what exactly happened is something slightly new that you haven’t seen a million times before. In fact, Burrows neatly walks a narrow tight rope, keeping Ana’s perception of reality grounded enough to imply serious stakes, but sufficiently nightmarish to be greatly unnerving.

As Ana, Yaiza Figueroa is pretty spectacular losing her cool and maybe her mind. Tom Barber-Duffy and Philippa Carson show tremendous flexibility going from benign to suspicious to we can’t say what at a moment’s notice. Plus, Noah Maxwell Clarke and James Farrar chew all kinds of scenery as the animal rights Svengali and the government cyber security investigator.

Anti Matter is a smart and nimble independent sf film that uses its Oxford setting nearly as well as the Inspector Lewis and Morse shows. Its effects are relatively limited, but it has plenty of mood, atmosphere, and ideas. Recommended for fans of concept-driven science fiction, Anti Matter opens tomorrow (9/8) in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall and releases day-and-date on VOD platforms, including iTunes.

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