J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Radius: Proximity Kills

It turns out Liam Hartwell really will use geometry in his post-high school life. Estimating diameters is suddenly critically important to him, when for unknown reasons, all animal life that comes within fifty feet of him starts to mysteriously die. However, there is one woman who is inexplicably immune to his lethal effects in Caroline Labrèche & Steeve Léonard’s Radius (trailer here), which releases today on VOD.

As Hartwell regains consciousness from an apparent auto accident, he quickly discovers he has a classic movie case of amnesia. It takes him a little longer to realize he is the cause of all the people collapsing dead around him, but to be fair, he is still groggy. Hoping to limit the death toll, Hartwell tries to sequester himself in his work shed, but a mystery woman comes calling—without keeling over dead.

The woman temporarily calling herself Jane Doe was picked up by the police not far from Hartwell’s wrecked pickup. Rather than gleaning a clue to her identity, Doe learns she is the only thing that counteracts Hartwell’s horrific powers. From that point on, they will be joined at the hip as they search for answers and evade law enforcement, who will inevitably start to suspect Hartwell is a terrorist.

Radius is jolly good science fiction thriller that explores questions of personality and memory, while also dropping some pretty wicked surprises. It is fleet of foot, but decidedly character driven, like a puree of The Fugitive and The X-Files. Yet, the macabre nature of Hartwell’s unwelcome power should also appeal to horror fans.

Without question, the chemistry between the two co-leads is what really makes Radius hum and crackle, especially considering the way it evolves as the two amnesiacs start to understand who they really are. Diego Klattenhoff and Charlotte Sullivan are both terrific as Hartwell and Doe, convincingly portraying them as mature, resourceful, and completely baffled fugitives, in the 39 Steps tradition.


There is a third act development that could have easily played as an audience betrayal, but Labrèche and Léonard elevate it to the level of high tragedy instead. They helm Radius with such assured hands, it makes you wonder why there is such a disappointingly long gap between it and their first feature, Lost Cause, from 2009. Radius is so smart, slick, and inventive, we can only hope it ushers in a period of prolific productivity for them. Very highly recommended, Radius is now available on VOD platforms, including iTunes.

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