17th Sep2015

‘Infini’ Review

by Mark Allen

Stars: Daniel MacPherson, Grace Huang, Luke Hemsworth, Bren Foster, Luke Ford, Dwaine Stevenson, Louisa Mignone, Tess Haubrich, Harry Pavlidis | Written by Shane Abbess, Brian Cachia | Directed by Shane Abbess

infini-poster

Sometimes all it takes to hook me into a movie is a solid premise. Other times it’s strong world building. And occasionally it’s the misguided belief that Jonny Lee Miller is in said movie.

Jonny Lee Miller is not in Infini, but five minutes into my screening I believed he was, due to a painted poster of the cast featuring a main character who bears a vague resemblance to him. When the real lead was revealed, a wave of disappointment hit me; not only had I missold the film to myself, but I had done the same to the friend sitting next to me.

None of this is the movie’s fault, but unfortunately Infini never recovered from that initial disappointment. Set a few hundred years in a future where faster-than-light travel has made it possible for humans to travel inconceivable distances in the blink of an eye, the story sees intergalactic military man Carmichael (Daniel MacPherson) stranded on a distant planetary outpost after a tragic incident. A just-barely-diverse enough search-and-rescue team is sent to track him down but, as anyone who’s ever seen a movie will know, things aren’t quite what they appear. It turns out that the outpost has been built on a living planet encased in ice which, when melted, becomes sentient and attaches itself to other lifeforms, making them hyperviolent and turning a rescue mission into a free-for-all.

The characters quickly come together and dissipate so that Carmichael can creep around the abandoned station and encounter them one-by-one, slasher-movie style, but while director Shane Abbess can compose some lovely (if cold) shots, there’s very little tension to be found in between the lead’s encounters. The production design and hell-in-space premise bring Event Horizon immediately to mind, but Abbess can’t bring the same kind of excitement and dread to his movie so the comparison hurts Infini. This is largely down to the film’s videogame-like structure: Carmichael wanders down a corridor, meets a new character, fights/talks to them and moves on to the next corridor, occasionally backtracking to pick up any exposition he missed earlier. It’s a wearying slog and reveals nothing about the characters other than manipulative nonsense like one of the team making a pregnancy-related confession to her husband (I know this is science fiction, but come on - they’re on the same space marine team?!).

Infini attempts to captures madness in flurries of facial twitches punctuated by alternately screaming/laughing/crying characters. This is startling the first time, but by the third and fourth it’s rote and occasionally hilarious, leaving zero room for any of the actors to give performances outside of their tics. What’s most disappointing is the film’s lack of respect for its audience. It floats some interesting ideas throughout its second half but is so focused on pretending to be a horror movie that we only get cursory glances at some great material. Its mortal weakness is exposed in these moments, such as when Carmichael’s teammates hint at criminal abuses of the teleportation technology before abruptly being wiped from the screenplay, that your ears prick up. But these notions are never expanded upon; the filmmakers have created a world in which they’re telling the most boring story possible…

Imagine if A New Hope had been about the glass collector at the Mos Eisley Cantina: It’d be frustrating to see Han Solo walk out of the bar and have to clean up Greedo’s guts, right?

Infini is on limited release across the UK from September 18th, before hitting DVD on September 21st.

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