25th Aug2017

Frightfest 2017: ‘Radius’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Diego Klattenhoff, Charlotte Sullivan, Brett Donahue, Nazariy Demkowicz, Terry Ray | Written and Directed by Caroline Labrèche & Steeve Léonard

radius-poster

Liam wakes from a car crash with no memory of who he is. As he makes his way into town to look for help, he finds only dead bodies, all with strange pale eyes. Liam’s first assessment is that a virus is present in the air and starts taking every precaution. But he soon discovers the horrible truth: anyone who comes within a 50-foot radius of him dies instantly. Then he meets Jane with whom he seems to have some sort of bizarre connection. However neither is prepared for the terrifying and appalling truth that binds them together.

It would seem, based on Radius and their previous work Sans Dessein, that co-writers and co-directors Caroline Labrèche & Steeve Léonard have a fascination with the human condition and how much control we have, in terms of forging our own destiny, in the course of our lives. Radius however asks the ultimate question: what makes you… you?

You see our protagonists – Liam and Jane – both have no recollection of who they are or why they are in this particular situation. Both only know that they are tied together by the bond of life. We will discover, throughout the course of the film, that it is a much more complicated bond than that as the story unfolds. But it’s credit to the films script that even with the same lack of knowledge as our leads, the audience is still enthralled, invested and impassioned by what will (and does) happen to Liam and Jane.

The script also, ultimately, provides clues to the strange bond between the pair: we find they were not thrust together by accident, their predicament is not a random choice; and yes, whilst the reveal that the duo were unintentional “victims” of a phenomenon offers an answer, the clever script still leaves the plot threads, the “why?”, open to interpretation (and yes, I’m being intentionally vague to prevent spoiling Radius‘ fantastic plot).

Diego Kalttenhoff, in the role of Liam, proves just why he is an essential part of TV’s The Blacklist. In that show, as he does here, he provides an emotional core. Yes, those emotions may be flawed and may cause more trouble than necessary, but Klattenhoff is the “human” part of the story. And he very much is so here too: this film is his journey, a journey not only to find out what has happened to him, but also a surprising journey of redemption. And when that redemption comes? As the audience are privvy to just what kind of man Liam is? Well it flips the film on its head, offering answers you never thought possible and leaving you questioning everything -  and I don’t just mean everything in the film. I mean EVERYTHING!

For a small, sci-fi-tinged horror made in Manitoba, Canada, Radius manages to leave its audience asking deep, meaningful, philosophical questions about life, humanity, whether we can ever escape our past, and if our past can, and should, dictate our future… Oh, and did I mention that ending. That ending! Let’s just say it’s not often a genre films conclusion can bring you to tears.

Another superb slice of Canadian genre cinema, Radius should be on the radar of horror fans everywhere. One of the true surprises of this years Frightfest.

***** 5/5

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2 Responses to “Frightfest 2017: ‘Radius’ Review”

  • Milo Jones

    I saw this on the Arrow screen yesterday and your review is spot on. Great film with appeal far outside the normal radius of the genre.

  • Thank you so much for this review. We’re so glad you enjoyed the film!